OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. - As a member of the Nuclear Weapons Council, U.S. Strategic Command endorses the feasibility of the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) and contends that RRW is feasible as a strategy for sustaining the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile for the long-term without underground nuclear testing.
"USSTRATCOM supports the Reliable Replacement Warhead as the key to transforming our aging Cold War nuclear weapons stockpile," said Gen. James E. Cartwright, commander, USSTRATCOM. "RRW will enhance our long-term confidence in the stockpile and reduce the need to retain high numbers of hedge weapons while exercising the people, science, technology base and facilities required for sustaining the nuclear weapons enterprise. "
The National Nuclear Security Administration and the Department of Defense share responsibility for the safety, security, reliability and effectiveness of the nation's stockpile of nuclear warheads, and for the quality and responsiveness of the enterprise necessary to sustain it. U.S. Strategic Command, as DoD's lead for the Stockpile Stewardship program, recognizes that the current path of indefinitely relying on legacy nuclear warhead designs through a series of Life Extension Programs entails accepting significant future risks and potentially large costs - from a reliability/performance, safety, security and responsiveness point of view. Because of the success of the SSP, an alternative strategy of developing a stockpile of RRW warheads can mitigate these risks and reduce the likelihood of requiring nuclear testing in the future.
RRW designs incorporate a broad suite of enhanced safety and security features and allow for easier and more cost-effective stockpile surveillance to prevent unauthorized use by terrorists, rogue nations or criminal organizations. With simpler designs, future uncertainties will be smaller, and can be managed using improved computational and experimental tools developed in the SSP. The transition to an RRW stockpile will re-invigorate the design and engineering technology base - especially its human resources - and enable a more responsive and cost-effective infrastructure, able to respond to tomorrow's challenges. As RRW designs are developed, the stockpile will be transformed ultimately into an all-RRW stockpile -- one that can be sustained with high confidence and managed risk, and with less likihood of requiring a nuclear test, well into the future.
"We recognize the importance of an efficient and more responsive nuclear weapons infrastructure to the Department's strategy of tailored deterrence," said Cartwright. "We believe RRW is the essential element needed to ensure our weapons are safe, secure, and reliable, to ensure we can respond to both technological and political surprise, and to reduce our current stockpile of nuclear warheads. "