Jeffrey LewisHouse E&W Denies Funding for RRW, Again

The House Energy and Water Subcommittee has again denied funding for the RRW in the FY09 Appropriations bill:

Last year, the Administration proposed the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) as the first of a new generation of nuclear warheads. The Administration promotes the advantages of a new design offering better surety, better reliability, and lower yield, but RRW was offered in a vacuum and there was no new strategy behind it. There was no plan for what the weapons were to be used for, how many there were to be, or how they were to be made. So, Congress refused to fund the RRW.

This year, the Committee again reiterates that before considering funding for most new programs, substantial changes to the existing nuclear weapons complex, or funding for RRW, the following sequence must be completed: First, replacement of the Cold War era strategies with a 21st Century nuclear deterrent strategy sharply focused on today’s and tomorrow’s threats that is capable of serving the national security needs of future Administrations and future Congresses without the need for nuclear testing; second, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear stockpile sufficient to serve that strategy; and finally, determination of the size and nature of the nuclear weapons complex needed to support that future stockpile. Of course, we need to be looking at all three at once, but the decisions have to flow in that order. With no such plan delivered, the fiscal year 2009 bill again denies all funding for RRW. There is no sense in expending the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars absent a clear plan for the complex.

[emphasis mine]


  1. Jeffrey (History)

    Jeffrey, I’ve been a subscriber of your blog for awhile now and greatly appreciate the information and analysis that you and your colleagues provide. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that I tagged you with the Randomness Meme at my IntelFusion blog. Sorry about that, Doc. :-)

  2. Haninah (History)

    That’s the most succinct and well-worded summary I’ve heard yet of the flaws with the Administration’s approach to RRW. Well done, Messrs Visclosky and Hobson (or rather, anonymous staffers who wrote that report).

  3. Stephen Young (History)

    Shall I speculate? Oh, what the heck.

    There was $40 million in the budget linked directly to RRW, plus some $53 million for pit manufacturing capability that had, at one point, been linked to RRW pits.

    Of the $40 million:

    – the $10 million under Direct Stockpile Work that was directly for RRW is gone

    – the $10 million that was for surety work tied to RRW is limited to work UNRELATED to RRW, but the overall surety budget was probably increased. (The total surety request was around $36 million.)

    – the $20 million for Advanced Certification, justified as work to examine the issues raised in the JASONs report on RRW, will be funded but somehow restricted to be not related to RRW work.

    That last point doesn’t quite make sense to me, as the problems identified in the JASONs report were related to the RRW, so how you can do work that won’t also benefit the RRW program isn’t clear to me, but they may have found a way.

    Oh, and they’ll make some cuts in the pit manfacturing and specify that it can’t be for RRW.

  4. R.Kelly (History)

    “The recommendation also doubles the Administration’s request for nuclear weapon surety, since surety is our last line of defense against an adversary’s attempt to use our own weapons against us.”

    This is a primary objective of the RRW. Just how many more surety studies are required to reiterate we need replace the old HMX NE systems ASAP?

    “With no such plan delivered, the fiscal year 2009 bill again denies all funding for RRW.” No doubt once this is done he, et al, will ask for another rock.

  5. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    Just an observation sideways:

    The army won the latest round in the RPV / Drone war against the Air Force, which means that the pathway is open for a lot more RPV and UAVs coming on stream in a few years. See:

    At this moment, it is not affecting tactical nuclear weapons deployments, but in a decade or two, it just might.

    Surety becomes a much bigger issue with the possibility of tactical nukes available / deployed on future platforms like today’s cruise missiles that will be remotely armed and triggered. The risk of a nuke falling into the wrong hands also increase.

  6. kg (History)

    “This is a primary objective of the RRW. Just how many more surety studies are required to reiterate we need replace the old HMX NE systems ASAP?”

    You must not have read the Jason report. It said the current nukes were good as far as the eye could see. No need to fix anything….

  7. Frank (History)

    DARPA Developing Technology to Destroy Deeply Buried Targets
    The Pentagon is developing non-nuclear weapons to find and destroy hard and deeply buried targets such as the tunnel complexes of mountainous Afghanistan and underground bunkers, program manager Brian Hearing tells Inside the Pentagon.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Strategically Hardened Facility Defeat program will be comprised of new penetration technologies, robust self-contained aerial deployment options, sensing and navigation subsystems as well as packaging and integration subsystems for harsh environments.

    “There are numerous numbers of facilities around the world . . . extremely difficult to defeat facilities that are drilled literally into mountains or deep underground mineshaft-type facilities,” Hearing told ITP in an interview at DARPA’s headquarters in Arlington, VA. He said “even unsophisticated enemies such as al Qaeda” are manufacturing underground sites, which developing nations can build inexpensively.

  8. TomM (History)


    Go re-read the Jasons’ report on ‘Pit Aging’. Your assertion that ‘the current nukes were good as far as the eye could see. No need to fix anything….’ is regarding projected plutonium properties NOT explosive performance, surety features or safe guards.

    The pit is a necessary feature of a weapon but it is not sufficient in and of itself. There are a lot of engineering features that must also function flawlessly for things to go according to plan.

    Much of the RRW proposal from LANL dealt with these other sticky questions.

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