April 14 (UPI) — An inert B61-12 nuclear bomb was dropped by the U.S. Air Force over the Nellis Test and Training Range Complex in Nevada recently, officials announced this week.
The dropping of the bomb, the first of the upgraded B-61 variant, was to demonstrate the capability of an F-16 to employ the weapon and the functioning of the bomb’s non-nuclear components, such as the arming and fire control system, radar altimeter, rocket motors and weapons control computer, the air Force said.
“The B61-12 gravity bomb ensures the current capability for the air-delivered leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear triad well into the future for both bombers and dual-capable aircraft supporting NATO,” said Paul Waugh, AFNWC’s Air-Delivered Capabilities director, said in a press release.
The test was conducted under a B-61 life-extension program the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, together with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. The B61-12 is to replace four versions of the B61 bomb in the U.S. nuclear stockpile.
B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft will be able to carry the weapon, the Air Force said.