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View Diary: Science Friday: A new generation of nuclear warheads? (104 comments)

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  •  Variations of The Termite's question... (none)
    I guess. What is the technical point of this weapon? It seems needlessly complicated and finicky compared to older weapons. Would this be the first deployed fusion weapon? Does the military want this just because the boom comes in a smaller package than with fission bombs?
    •  Not the first.... (none)
      ...deployed fusion weapon.  All hydrogen bombs are fusion weapons (or more properly "fission-fusion-fission" if I recall correctly), and this characterizes the vast majority of strategic warheads in the U.S. and post-Soviet arsenals since the 1950s.

      Two-step, lockstep, goosestep: Herr Busch's three-step plan to a righter tomorrow.

      by The Termite on Fri Apr 15, 2005 at 10:27:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  No (none)
      The W76 (which is the diagram shown) is in service now.  It's a standard warhead.  Fusion weapons have been the standard for decades now, and work on the same principle: fission trigger, fusion secondary.

      The discussion is whether a new model should be designed and built.  The problem with the W76, and most modern weapons, is that in a penetrator role they don't work well because they are fairly fragile.  That, ironically, is what makes them safe in the case of accidents: any damage and they won't work.  You might get a mess due to a dirty bomb explosion, but cleaning up fragments of nuclear fuel is a lot better than an accidental 10 megaton explosion.

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