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U.S. tests B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb

A developmental B61 nuclear gravity bomb upgrade has been tested by the United States.

By Richard Tomkins
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U.S. tests B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb
The United States Air Force (USAF) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) completed the first development flight test of a non-nuclear B61-12 gravity bomb at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada on July 1, 2015. Photo courtesy NNSA

WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- The first of three development flights for the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb has been successfully completed in Nevada.

The test -- conducted by the U.S. Air Force and the National Nuclear Security Administration -- was to verify the capabilities of the weapon system and instrumentation system designs and the hardware before undergoing a baseline design review in 2016.

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"This test marks a major milestone for the B61-12 Life Extension Program, demonstrating end-to-end system performance under representative delivery conditions," said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Dr. Don Cook. "Achieving the first complete B61-12 flight test provides clear evidence of the nation's continued commitment to maintain the B61 and provides assurance to our allies."

NNSA said the assets used in the test consisted of hardware designed by Sandia National and Los Alamos National Laboratories and manufactured by the National Security Enterprise Plants, which were mated to the USAF tail-kit assembly, designed by Boeing.

The development test unit was released from an F-15E and telemetry, tracking and video data were collected.

The B61-12 LEP entered development engineering in 2012 to modernize both nuclear and non-nuclear components to extend the bomb's service life. With the incorporation of an Air Force provided tail-kit assembly, the B61-12 will replace existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs now in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

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