U.S. Tests New Unarmed Nuclear Gravity Bomb

U.S. Tests New Unarmed Nuclear Gravity Bomb
A non-nuclear B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb is tested at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada on October 20, 2015. Photo courtesy National Nuclear Security Administration

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 (UPI) ─ A third development flight test of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb has been conducted by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration and the Air Force.

The test of the bomb — without nuclear explosives — was conducted late last month at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada as part of a life-extension program for the weapon using hardware designed by Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory, manufactured by the National Security Enterprise Plants, and mated to the tail-kit assembly section designed by Boeing.

This demonstration of effective end-to-end system performance under representative delivery conditions marks another 2015 achievement in the development of the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon. “Completing this guided B61-12 flight test provides additional evidence of the nation’s continued commitment to our nation’s security and that of our allies and partners.”

The B61-12 life-extension program, or LEP, refurbishes both nuclear and non-nuclear components to extend the bomb’s service life while enhancing safety, security and reliability. The LEP will reuse or remanufacture existing components to the maximum extent possible. With the incorporation of an Air Force provided tail-kit assembly, the B61-12 will replace the existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs.

In the test the B61-12 LEP bomb was dropped by an Air Force F-15, the agency said, and performed successfully — initial indications are that all scheduled activities occurred successfully and that telemetry, tracking and video data were properly collected

“This test provides additional confidence in the weapon system and instrumentation designs prior to authorizing Phase 6.4, Production Engineering, in 2016,” the agency said.

NNSA is an autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. It is responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science.


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