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Nov 21, 2008

The U.S. Needs Modern Nuclear Weapons

11/21/08 - WSJ.com Opinion by Melanie Kirkpatrick   --> Source

[edited] Gen. Kevin Chilton says we've done a pretty good job of maintaining our submarines, missiles, and bombers. Back when we had a robust infrastructure to replenish nuclear warheads, they were designed for a 15-20 year life. Now, they are all older than 20 years. The analogy is trying to extend the life of your 1957 Chevrolet.

Gen. Chilton illustrates his point with an electronic vacuum tube, a glass bulb two inches high with connection pins at the bottom. It is a component of a V-61 nuclear warhead from the 1950-60's that is still in the U.S. arsenal. "I remember what these things were for. I bet you don't. In the 1950's, my father used to take these out of the television set down to the local supermarket to test and replace them. This is the technology that we have today."

Compare that to a circuit board that fits in my hand. "That tube is just a tiny, little chip on this circuit board". Congress has not appropriated money for the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, to replace tube technology, and the Department of Energy has no appropriation even to study how to do so.

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