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The use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) electronic parts in nuclear weapons systems may reduce the reliability of the US nuclear arsenal over time as the electronics age in ways that are hard to predict, according to">a newly disclosed report from the JASON science advisory panel.

“Most of the electronic materials and components within a weapon system are electrically inactive for a majority of the system lifetime” — which in a nuclear weapon can last for decades. “Determining the reliability of successfully executing a highly demanding, short-duration, operational sequence for systems that have been dormant over extended time periods challenges our ability to model, predict, and meet system performance requirements,” the JASON report to the National Nuclear Security Administration said.

“A goal of reliable performance after 40-60 years of unmonitored storage poses difficult, and perhaps unrealistic, challenges for electronic components to electrical subsystems and systems, whether or not COTS materials are utilized.” See">Electronic Materials Aging, JASON report JSR-20-2B, November 2020.

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