From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The W76 warhead and Mk-4 re-entry vehicle (cutaway diagram) – Los Alamos National Labs image
TypeNuclear bomb
Service history
In service1978–present
Used byUnited States and possibly the United Kingdom (see Trident (UK Program)
Production history
DesignerLos Alamos National Laboratory
DesignedW76-1 1973–1978, W76-2 2018
ManufacturerPantex Plant
ProducedW76-1 1978–1987 (full production), W76-2 2018-FY2024
No. built~3400
Mass362.5 pounds (164.4 kg)

Contact, airburst
Blast yieldW76-1 100 kilotons, W76-2 5–7 kilotons

The W76 is a United States thermonuclear warhead. The first variant was manufactured from 1978 to 1987, and is still in service as of 2019. In 2018 a new low-yield variant was announced which is expected to gain initial operating capability in 2019.

The W-76 is carried inside a Mk-4 re-entry vehicle. U.S. Trident I and Trident II SLBM/submarine-launched ballistic missiles may carry W76 warheads as one warhead option, along with W88 warheads in the Trident II.

The dimensions of the W76 and Mk-4 re-entry vehicle which carries it are not known; only the warhead's weight of 362 pounds (164 kg) has been disclosed.

The W76 has a yield of 100 kilotons.

The upgraded W76-1/Mk4A will be used in both American and British submarines.[1]

Extensions to the service lives for 800 of the warheads was approved by the US government in 2000, then later increased to 2,000.[2] Production on the W76-1 started in September 2008 to extend service life by 20 years and add safety features; the National Nuclear Security Administration completed updating all W76-0 warheads to the W76-1 design in December 2018.[3]

The warhead is currently the most numerous weapon in the US nuclear arsenal,[4] having replaced the Poseidon SLBM warhead, the W68, in that capacity.

The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review announced that manufacturing of a new variant, W76-2, would commence.[5] The W76-2 variant is described as a low-yield warhead, expected to yield about 5-7 kilotons of TNT equivalent[6]. The National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it had started to manufacture the W76-2 variant in January 2019. Initial operating capability is expected in the final quarter of 2019,[7] and manufacturing is expected to last through FY2024[8] at the Pantex Plant[9].

See also[edit]



External links[edit]