Just one month ahead of the U.S. dropping the second largest non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal on an Islamic State, Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan, the Pentagon confirmed recently it has successfully tested a modernized gravity nuclear device in Nevada.
“This demonstration of effective end-to-end system performance in a realistic ballistic flight environment marks another on-time achievement for the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, an assistant deputy with the NNSA.
“The successful test provides critical qualification data to validate that the baseline design meets military requirements. It reflects the nation’s continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners.”
The test was conducted by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the U.S. Air Force on March 14 at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
Capable of being delivered by supersonic aircraft, the B61-12 does not deploy a guidance system and relies only on ballistic trajectory following its release from an aircraft. The U.S. has maintained gravity bombs in its nuclear arsenal for decades.
An updated variant of four older B61s, the B61-12 is expected to replace four versions which have formed the mainstay of the U.S. stockpile. Along with the B61-12, only the B83 remains in the U.S. inventory.
Although the weapon system has undergone successful tests in the recent past, unlike previous tests in 2015, Thursday’s test included the weapon fitted with more electronics and steering fins for greater accuracy.
Future tests are expected over the next three years.
[AP] [RT America] [Photo courtesy NNSA via Daily Mail]