Sandia LabNews

New Mexico Nuclear Deterrence team visits Tonopah Test Range

Laura McGill talks to staff and enjoys a tour of the site

Image of Laura McGill looks into TTR ME-16 telescope
TONOPAH TELESCOPE — Deputy Labs Director Laura McGill, left, gets firsthand operator experience with Jim Rini in a TTR ME-16 telescope. The telescope is used to provide high speed documentary video. (Photo by David Coleman)

Deputy Labs Director for Nuclear Deterrence Laura McGill, along with others from the Nuclear Deterrence executive office, visited Tonopah Test Range in late May. The site has a rich history of supporting broad national security missions and most recently has been the primary flight-testing range for weapon development and qualification as well as compatibility certification of the B61-12 Life Extension Program on five military aircraft platforms and with more in the works.

Located about four hours north of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Tonopah Test Range provides research and development test support for DOE weapons programs and has the facilities, large land area and security necessary to conduct a variety of test operations. During her stay, Laura took a four-hour tour of the site that included visits to radar and telemetry outposts, as well as to the Test Operations Center tower where she experienced a simulated test-flight checkout.

Image of Sunset over Tonopah Test Range
SCENIC VIEWS — Tonopah Test Range at night in May overlooking the target on Antelope lake. The trailer in the foreground holds the ME-16 telescope. (Photo by David Coleman)

“The work you conduct here is a critical step in the development and delivery of the nuclear deterrent. Your flight tests demonstrate that the weapon and the aircraft work as an integrated system to successfully execute the mission,” Laura told a town hall audience. “Thank you for all you do. It’s beautiful here.”