As the US military prepares to begin a new wave of construction of its next generation nuclear weapons, its new contractor will be working on the first of three major projects in a new area of research.
The Navy has awarded its third Marine Corps Marine Corps Advanced Technology Demonstration contract to Advanced Materials Research, a contractor that has worked on the construction of nuclear weapons in the US since the 1960s.
The US government awarded Advanced Materials a contract worth $11.3 billion to develop a new class of nuclear warhead for the Navy in April 2019.
The Navy had previously planned to spend about $1.8 billion for the first phase of the project.
But the Pentagon delayed the second phase of construction to 2017 to enable the Navy to focus on its new Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile (JLCAM) fleet, which the Navy says it wants to replace its existing fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft.
The JLCAM is a much smaller, smaller weapon that can carry more warheads and less destructive power than the Trident III submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) that have been used to attack cruise missiles in the past.
Navy officials said they wanted to be able to get the JLCam in the ground as soon as possible.
The JLCAMS are expected to cost about $20 billion, the most recent figures available from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which was tasked with developing the weapons, and are scheduled to be ready for use by 2020.
The Advanced Materials Demonstration is a major milestone for the US Navy and will be the first time it will work directly on a nuclear war warhead.
In 2019, the Navy awarded Advanced Technology Research a $6.5 billion contract to design and build a new nuclear warband for the new Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
The LCS is the Navy’s fifth major ship, and the first ship to be launched in 2021, replacing the USS Gerald R Ford and USS Nimitz, which have both been in service for more than 40 years.