Machine Design
“Oops, I Dropped the Warhead!” (On Purpose)

“Oops, I Dropped the Warhead!” (On Purpose)

An unarmed W88 ALT 370 warhead was dropped onto concrete to gather data for upgrading components.

The Defense Dept. drop tested its latest nuclear warhead, the W88 ALT 370, the follow-up to the W88. It was the first such drop test since 1987 and it was conducted at Sandia National Lab’s 185-ft Drop Tower facility. The warhead (unarmed, of course) was dropped onto concrete in a simulated accident using the same type of handling gear that will move the weapon. To pass the test, the warhead has to remain safe and not leak radiation.

Sandia scientists will use vibration and shock measurements from the test to update specifications for weapon components. The data will also validate computer models designed to simulate other drop scenarios. 

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