Morning Briefing - March 19, 2019
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March 19, 2019

Los Alamos Still on Top in New NNSA Lab Funding Plan

By ExchangeMonitor

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on Monday broke down how much of its requested $16.5 billion budget for fiscal 2020 would go to each of its nuclear-weapon labs. However, the Department of Energy branch had not still published its detailed 2020 budget request at deadline Tuesday for Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico stayed in the top spot, with a proposed budget of about $2.5 billion starting Oct. 1, or 1.5 percent above the 2019 appropriation. Los Alamos is the lead design laboratory for the B61-12 life-extension program, which began in earnest in December when the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee cranked out the first secondary stage for the refurbished gravity bomb.

Los Alamos is also expanding its capacity to produce fissile warhead cores called plutonium pits with 2020 funding under the previously authorized Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project. The NNSA has not yet said exactly how much funding the pit expansion in New Mexico will receive. In the now-year-old 2019 budget request, it projected the project would need about $240 million for fiscal 2020.

Los Alamos is on the hook to make at least 30 war-usable pits annually beginning in 2026, if not sooner.

The Sandia National Laboratories, headquartered in Albuquerque and with a satellite location in California, would get about $2.4 billion for 2020, which is about 4.5 percent, or around $100 million, more than the 2019 appropriation of roughly $2.3 billion. The lab designs the non-nuclear components of nuclear weapons.

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California would get the largest proportional budget increase in 2020, if the NNSA’s request became law. The agency seeks about $1.8 billion, which is more than 17.5 percent, or $280 roughly million, above the 2019 appropriation of $1.5 billion.

Livermore is leading the W80-4 life-extension program to modernize the warhead slated to top the Pentagon’s new nuclear-tipped, air-launched cruise missile, the Long-Range Standoff weapon.