Modernization efforts continue at Pantex

Modernization efforts at Pantex are continuing as new construction is being seen everywhere on...
Modernization efforts at Pantex are continuing as new construction is being seen everywhere on site and one of the areas with the most visible changes is in the highly specialized area of High Explosives manufacturing.(Pantex)
Published: Nov. 27, 2022 at 2:52 PM CST

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Modernization efforts at Pantex are continuing as new construction is being seen everywhere on site and one of the areas with the most visible changes is in the highly specialized area of High Explosives manufacturing.

“First, we have to focus on modernizing our facilities because many of our facilities are World War II-era facilities, especially in our high explosives missions. So we’re in the process of upgrading all of our major facilities in our high explosive manufacturing mission, that journey has been more than 20 years in the making,” said Jeff Yarbrough, former Pantex site manager.

Since 1960, Pantex has provided cradle-to-grave High Explosives manufacturing for all weapons programs and production is wide stretching; including synthesis, formulation, machining, assembly, disposition, and testing and has received the designation High Explosives Center of Excellence for Manufacturing from the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“The goal for the High Explosives Center of Excellence is to continue to improve every day, and to be able to meet the mission today and the future. Today, we’re still working on some of our older facilities, still using some of our older equipment, but we’re going to get to the point where we’re having the major facility upgrades,” said Monty Cates, senior director of technology operations.

High Explosives construction projects include the Science & Engineering (HESE) Facility, the Synthesis, Formulation, and Production Facility (HESFP), and the Advanced Fabrication Facility (AFF), all designed to sustain the program long term.

“It takes lots of planning, lots of approvals, lots of engineering to even get a design on paper before we even start construction, the construction is heavy construction, so it usually costs more for facilities to be able to manufacture high explosives and you know, it’s intuitive and that’s the case,” said Cates.

Budgets and time are two of the biggest challenges facing these modernization efforts to produce these specialized facilities. Decades of strategic planning and obtaining the funding for High Explosives modernization efforts have been top priorities at Pantex.

“We’re going to have to modernize and we’re making big strides and getting lots of support from the Enterprise and NNSA headquarters, and our lab partners in this endeavor to upgrade in facilities equipment,” said Cates.

These new facilities replace buildings constructed in World War II, and the High Explosives Center of Excellence modernization efforts are expected to be complete by the year 2030, which will help enable Pantex to continue fulfilling its vial role of maintaining and enhancing global security for decades to come.