The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) announced in a press release on Aug. 28 that two qualification flight tests of B61-12 gravity bombs were carried out at Tonopah Test Range, Nevada on Aug. 28.
The non-nuclear test assemblies, which were dropped from a U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-15E Strike Eagle based at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon, according to the press release.
Noteworthy these tests are part of a series over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. The first qualification flight test took place on Mar. 14, 2017, when an F-16 from the at Nellis Test and Training Range Complex, released an inert B61-12 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.
“The B61-12 life extension program is progressing on schedule to meet national security requirements,” said Phil Calbos, acting NNSA deputy administrator for Defense Programs. “These realistic flight qualification tests validate the design of the B61-12 when it comes to system performance.”
The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants, and mated to the tail-kit assembly section, designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.
Photo credit: NNSA and SSGT Phil Schmitten / United States Department of Defense
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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