Military

Nuclear weapon transporter truck undergoes rocket crash test

Nuclear weapon transporter tru...
The Mobile Guardian Transporter about to be hit by a rocket-propelled truck
The Mobile Guardian Transporter about to be hit by a rocket-propelled truck
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The rocket propelled truck was accelerated to highway speeds
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The rocket propelled truck was accelerated to highway speeds
The Mobile Guardian Transporter about to be hit by a rocket-propelled truck
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The Mobile Guardian Transporter about to be hit by a rocket-propelled truck
The transporter was developed under COVID-19 mitigation procedures
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The transporter was developed under COVID-19 mitigation procedures
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Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) has successfully conducted a full-scale crash test of the semi-tractor-trailer truck that will be used to transport nuclear weapons inside the United States. The Mobile Guardian Transporter was tested at SNL's rocket sled test track in New Mexico in June, where a second fully loaded semi-tractor trailer was propelled by rockets at highway speeds into the transporter for a broadside collision.

Because of the nature of the United States defense industry, the development, building, testing, storage, and deployment of nuclear weapons is spread widely throughout the lower 48 states. This is done for a variety of political, economic, practical, and security reasons, but it means that the US Department of energy and the Department of Defense need to rely on specially made transporters that protect weapons and weapon materials from hijacking and accidents.

Apparently the first of the transporters was the back seat of an ordinary Army sedan, which was used to carry the nuclear materials for the first atomic bomb in 1945. Since then, a family of increasingly sophisticated vehicles has been developed, including aircraft, armored trains, and since the 1990s, the Safeguards Transporter tractor-trailer system.

The rocket propelled truck was accelerated to highway speeds
The rocket propelled truck was accelerated to highway speeds

To replace Safeguard, SNL is working for the National Nuclear Security Administration on the Mobile Guardian Transporter, which is expected to remain in service into the 2050s. For this project, engineers rejected developing an existing design in favor of a blank-sheet approach, which has culminated in the first crash test by the laboratory in two decades.

In previous tests 20 years ago, the transporter crashed into an immobile barrier. This time, the sensor-equipped prototype remained stationary while another truck was fired at it to produce a more realistic accident simulation and determine if the new transporter can keep the weapons cargo safe. The first prototype took 13 months to build with an additional six months to install the electronics before it was put to standard environmental tests that subjected it to extreme temperatures of hot and cold, as well as road driving and vibration tests.

For the crash test, the transporter's sensors handled over 400 channels of data and video, including high-speed video. Such extensive sensor coverage was necessary because only three prototypes will be built before production begins.

"The transportation mission is a critical component of an effective nuclear deterrent," says Jim Redmond, Sandia senior manager over the program. "It provides needed assurance to the American public and our allies of the safety and security of our stockpile. You’ve got to be able to ship nuclear assets safely and securely or you don’t have a deterrence program."

Source: Sandia National Laboratories

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6 comments
buzzclick
"It provides needed assurance to the American public and our allies of the safety and security of our stockpile".

That's a bit of an oxymoron. Protecting weapons that are designed to kill. lol
Neil Larkins
These weapons are designed to kill. The idea of protection is to keep them from killing us.
Karmudjun
NIce synopsis David. I'm glad our defense department keeps developing safer transport systems and producing more "fail-safe" mechanisms (actually, the only oxymoron is 'fail-safe', there are always means for the most protected system to fail). I'm sure the defense industry will benefit from these developments, as will our nuclear power and medical transport systems - we dispose of a great amount of radioactive medical waste every year and the reality is we don't see or seem to care about the safety of post-use transportation.

Not as glamorous as a truck carrying spent nuclear plant fuel rods for long term storage, but the nuclear regulatory commission will likely update their transportation protocols for the radioactive transport of weapons - and of medical radioactives that are designed to kill cancerous cells and not harm the general public. Not really an oxymoron in the big picture...but I get the tongue-in-cheek joke. lol
Username
If the test was at highway speeds why did they use rockets? Seems like a waste of money.
WB
using rockets to propel a track? are you freaking kidding me? can someone stop this madness - and save everyone some dollars? I mean Jesus Christ I am sure they can find some covid patients or some babies in cages, to spend this money on - which they blow up on these STUPlD rockets!
MeToo
Why didn't you show the results?