The B61-12 is the latest variant of the B61 nuclear bomb and will be compatible with the B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and Tornado aircraft
As reported by major media outlets, on Apr. 13, 2017 U.S. Air Force (USAF) Special Operations MC-130 dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb in Afghanistan to destroy an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province at 19:32 local time.
Noteworthy this has been the first combat employment of the GBU-43/B.
On the same day a USAF news release revealed that on Mar. 14, 2017 an F-16 from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Test and Training Range Complex, Nevada, released an inert B61-12 nuclear bomb to demonstrate the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon and testing the functioning of the weapon’s non-nuclear components, including the arming and fire control system, radar altimeter, spin rocket motors and weapons control computer.
Noteworthy the test was conducted under a life-extension program for the B61, which is refurbishing both its nuclear and non-nuclear components to extend the bomb’s service life, while improving its safety, security and reliability.
The B61-12 in fact is the latest variant of the B61 and will replace four versions of the nuclear bomb.
“The B61-12 gravity bomb ensures the current capability for the air-delivered leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear triad well into the future for both bombers and dual-capable aircraft supporting NATO,” said Paul Waugh, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center’s (AFNWC) Air-Delivered Capabilities director. The B61-12 will be compatible with the B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and Tornado aircraft.
While Boeing under an AFNWC contract designed the B61-12 tail kit, Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory, as federally funded research and development centers operating under National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), developed and manufactured the non-nuclear bomb assembly used for the flight test.
About 200 personnel in AFNWC’s Air-Delivered Capabilities Directorate deliver, sustain and support air-delivered nuclear weapon systems. The directorate is headquartered at Kirtland AFB and oversees locations at Eglin AFB, Florida; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; Ramstein AB, Germany; Robins AFB, Georgia; Tinker AFB, Oklahoma; and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Photo credit: SSGT Phil Schmitten / United States Department of Defense and Staff Sgt. Brandi Hansen / U.S. Air Force