Everything is going according to plan. Well, almost everything.
Buried in Vol. 2 (of 3) of the Air Force’s FY 2011 R&D budget (the entire budget encompasses 33 documents, some of them are more than 1,000 pages long) is an item referring to the “reliable replacement warhead.” This is the controversial Bush administration proposal (once, and perhaps still, supported by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates) to design a less complex nuclear warhead that is less prone to decay and dysfunction over time. This is important because every weapon in our current arsenal is at least 20 years old (and some are much older) and many of them are incredibly complex and thus, potentially, don’t work any more—but we don’t know it. Former nuclear weapons designer Thomas Reed analogizes a nuclear weapon to highly complex sports car: You can’t leave a Ferrari in the garage for 20 years, and then decide one day you want to take it for a spin, and count on it starting just like that.