What we do
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Science, engineering and technology at AWE covers a number of technical areas which include our support to the UK's deterrent, our responsibility for ensuring the safety of the warheads, and our commitment to national nuclear security.
In 1996, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was agreed by the United Nations. This was a crucial step forward for nuclear arms control and non-proliferation. The Treaty bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth's surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. The United Kingdom was one of the first nations to sign up to the Treaty when it opened for signature.
Each component of a warhead will experience continuous change over time as a result of ageing, obsolescence and improved design, it is our responsibility to make sure that it is safe and secure. In the CTBT era, AWE relies on cutting-edge science and computational methodologies to verify the safety and effectiveness of the warhead stockpile, without conducting live testing. This means having the right skills and technical facilities available, as well as innovative collaborations with international partners, academia and other external bodies.
Science and technology covers a number of specialisms and research areas, some of which are multi-disciplinary. Working together with our engineering and manufacturing teams, our scientists ensure our ability to maintain warheads for the UK's strategic deterrent. Our work in science and technology also provides innovative solutions to national nuclear security.
Engineering at AWE is focussed on warhead engineering capability. We must have the right capabilities, methods, tools and manufacturing techniques in place to ensure that the UK is able to continue to underwrite the warhead.
Engineers use pioneering science-based methodology – a ground-breaking approach which allows us to certify nuclear warheads and to predict the performance of a system which cannot be tested.
Manufacturing allows us to deliver our mission to maintain and provide continuity of the UK's nuclear weapons stockpile as required by UK Government.
Production manufacturing covers a diverse range of materials and sophisticated and intricate processes, including making precision components to support warhead assembly and disassembly. Our manufacturing specialists are also involved with process technology development, programme/project management, manufacturing systems and supporting technical and administrative functions throughout the company.
Plus, our Technical Outreach Programme is key to developing our relationships with the UK's science, engineering and technology community. Through our links with universities, professional bodies and government agencies, we build and share knowledge for mutual benefit.