The US has built the “first production unit” of the modernized B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb, which is the current, aging unit of the iconic B61, which has been in service for more than 50 years.
The completion of an upgraded, variable-efficiency atomic bomb was announced this week by the National Nuclear Safety Authority (NNSA). The “First Production Unit” (FPU) was assembled on November 23, paving the way for mass production of the modernized bomb, which is expected to begin in May 2022.
“With this program, we will deliver a system to the Department of Defense, which improves accuracy and reduces explosive force while keeping military characteristics unchanged, while improving security, defense and reliability, ”said Jill Hruby, Secretary of State for Energy and NNSA Administrator
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
With the upgrade, the free-fall bomb becomes virtually adjustable ammunition, as the new B61-12s have a guided tail set supplied by Boeing. The kit gives the bomb some ability to maneuver in the air instead of simply falling to the ground.
The first B61-12 arrives more than a year late, as the The $ 12 billion modernization program at the end of 2019 ran into problems with capacitor components. At the time, the NNSA discovered that the capacitors used in both the B61-12 and the W88 Alteration 370 warheads of the Navy’s submarine missiles could not meet military standards.
The new version of the iconic bomb is intended to replace the types B61-3, 4 and 7 currently in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. In addition to B61-12, the only version that remains in use is B61-11, a relatively modern, bunker-destroying version of the bomb.
The American Association of Scientists (FAS), a Washington-based the nonprofit estimates the U.S. is expected to produce about 480 B61-12 bombs. The bomb is thought to have a range of power ranging from 0.3 to 50 kilotons, making it a flexible weapon that can be used for both tactical and strategic purposes.
By comparison, the first atomic bomb ever used by the U.S. The bomb detonated over Nagasaki was about 15 kilotonnes
The bomb was originally designed in the 1960s, but in 2012 both nuclear, both for the modernization of non-nuclear components.
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