The Pentagon announced March 31 2006 it will explode a new bomb at a Nevada test site on June 2. The 700-ton bomb is called “Divine Strake.”
The DIVINE STRAKE full scale test is planned to be a large-yield, buried burst detonated at the Nevada Test Site. Divine Strake would appear to be associated with the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator RNEP, or possibly the B61-11 Earth-Penetrating Weapon, a fact that is obscured in most press coverage. Divine Strake is a high-explosive (HE) test sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The test is a detonation of a 700 ton buried heavy AN/FO charge above a tunnel structure. The main purpose of the test is to study ground shock effects on deeply buried tunnel structures. Of secondary interest is the airblast produced by a buried charge and its modification as it propagates over the local terrain. Scheduled for the summer of 2006, as of 01 April 2006 the test was planned for 02 June 2006.
DIVINE STRAKE is one of several “DIVINE” efforts under the Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat (HDBTD) program. DIVINE WARHAWK consists of deep underground operational tunnel facility defeat demonstrations using advanced weapons at the White Sands Missile Range. DIVINE HELCAT was a 2004 reconstitution exercise to determine reconstitution time for the C3I tunnel facility at Nevada Test Site (NTS). Also in 2004 planning began for DIVINE HATES, which is a WMD production and storage tunnel complex functional defeat effort.
DTRA’s FY2006 budget request including funding to “Conduct the Tunnel Target Defeat Advanced Concept and Technology Demonstration(s) (ACTD) Full-Scale tunnel defeat demonstration using high explosives to simulate a low yield nuclear weapon ground shock environment at Department of Energy’s Nevada Test Site. Deliver validated analysis and planning tools to conduct the end-to-end use of nuclear planning tools to characterize and “weaponeer” the full-scale Tunnel Target Defeat Advanced Concept and Technology Demonstration(s) (ACTD) event. … The Tunnel Target Defeat Advanced Concept and Technology Demonstration(s) (ACTD) will develop a planning tool that will improve the warfighter’s confidence in selecting the smallest nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities while minimizing collateral damage. The focus of the demonstration is to reduce the uncertainties in target characterization and weapon effect/target response. Target characterization uncertainties include those related to determining the target function, layout, operational status, and the geological and geotechnical features. Weapons effects/tunnel response uncertainties are associated with predicting ground shock and tunnel response in layered and jointed media.”
The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) proposes to provide a test bed to be used by DTRA to conduct a single large scale, open air explosive detonation in Area 16 of the NTS. The proposed detonation, known as DIVINE STRAKE, would occur tentatively in mid 2006 above the existing U16b Tunnel Complex. DIVINE STRAKE would supply a relevant full scale simulation demonstration with a tunnel complex to create a post test underground environment sustaining light to severe damage.
The logical next step, in this portion of the HDBT program is the Proposed Action: a full scale test bed for final validation of the modeling effort. The explosive yield (700 tons (635 metric tons) of ANFO emulsion) was selected based on modeling predictions of the amount of ANFO that would be needed to cause the appropriate extent of damage to the underground facility, and on information gained from the small and intermediate scale tests. A larger amount of ANFO emulsion is not needed for the Proposed Action, and a smaller amount would not be adequate to significantly damage the full scale tunnel facility.
While the Proposed Action is not directly linked to the test and evaluation of any specific weapon system, one objective is to evaluate damage to a tunnel facility from a large yield surface detonation. A second objective is to provide field test ground motion and tunnel damage data for the improvement and/or validation of ground motion and underground facility damage computer codes.
In order to successfully conduct a project to obtain the desired results, DTRA requires a site or facility that accurately simulates a HDBT. Tunnel U16b at the NTS provides an existing facility that fulfills the needs of DTRA. The U16b tunnel is in a geological setting that simulates the characteristics of important potential, global adversarial targets. This U16b site was carefully chosen after reviewing the geological properties of a number of other locations on U.S. Government range complexes and other controlled land areas. For this reason, DTRA requested approval by NNSA to conduct an open air high explosive detonation at the U16b Tunnel.
A large scale, open air detonation such as DIVINE STRAKE is consistent with the mission of the NTS, and the remote location of the NTS ensures that impacts to the public would be minimal. Public Affairs announcements would notify the public prior to the detonation. The Proposed Action of the Large Scale, Open Air Explosive Detonation, DIVINE STRAKE, at the Nevada Test Site is designed to meet the purpose and need for NTS’s large size, remote location, and extensive infrastructure offer a practical technology development site for the Proposed Action.