The National Nuclear Safety Administration announced that the United States has produced a prototype of its upgraded B61 nuclear bomb.
The administration indicated that “this product was manufactured on November 23, and it is scheduled to replace (B61-12), three of the four current modifications of the previous ammunition that entered service in 1968.”
“The developed warhead will replace the B61-3, B61-4 and B61-7, and as a result of modernization, the service life of the bomb will be increased by at least 20 years,” she added.
“Full batch production of the upgraded bomb is expected to begin in May 2022, with all required nuclear warheads to be completed during fiscal year 2026.”
She noted that “the B61-12 bomb will differ from its predecessor in that it does not have to be parachuted and will have a new tail with a self-guidance system, which increases its accuracy.
“As a result of the development, the power of the bomb will also be reduced in TNT equivalent,” said Jill Harby, head of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Safety Administration.
He added, “There have been no changes in the military characteristics of the ammunition, and the development increases its safety and reliability.”
Last week, #NNSA successfully completed the B61-12 First Production Unit @PantexPlant. This is a huge milestone for stockpile modernization and demonstrates our Nation’s commitment to #nuclear deterrence. pic.twitter.com/90ojHPw6cH
— NNSA Administrator (@NNSAHruby) December 2, 2021
In turn, the National Security Agency stated that “all nuclear and non-nuclear components of the bomb have been developed or replaced.”
Hans Kristensen, director of media projects related to the nuclear field at the Federation of American Scientists, confirmed that “the first test of the B61-12 bomb, without detonating an atomic charge, was conducted in the United States on July 1, 2015”.
TEST PREP — Ron Maes, at right, and Jeff Meador (both 2155) prepare a B61-12 test assembly that will used to study and understand the behavior and performance of weapon components and systems under a variety of conditions. The work is part of Sandia’s B61 Life Extension Program pic.twitter.com/cdLeMNu5Jp
— Casillic (@Casillic) November 29, 2021
He said: “If we take into account that the B61-12 bomb can be carried by the American fifth-generation bomber F-35 and that such ammunition is planned to be deployed in Europe, then one must conclude, that this nuclear modernization is the most important for NATO since the eighties“.
B61-12 Bullseye! pic.twitter.com/wuYYK4GZdC
— Casillic (@Casillic) November 25, 2021