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01:33 AM, August 30, 2017
USAF Completes Two 'Non-nuclear' Tests Of B61-12 Gravity Bombs
B61-12 nuclear weapon (Image: Strategic Culture Foundation)

The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and US Air Force completed two qualification flight tests of B61-12 gravity bombs on August 8 at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. 

The non-nuclear test assemblies, which were dropped from an F-15E based at Nellis Air Force Base, evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon, NNSA said in a statement Monday.

These tests are part of a series over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. The first qualification flight test occurred in March.

“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.

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