The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and United States Air Force (USAF) have completed the third development flight test of a non-nuclear version of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, NNSA said in a press release posted on its website. It performed successfully in a realistic guided flight environment.

The US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and United States Air Force (USAF) have completed the third development flight test of a non-nuclear version of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, NNSA said in a press release posted on its website. It performed successfully in a realistic guided flight environment.

A worker steadies a mock B61-12 as it begins its trip via forklift to the barrel of Sandia National Laboratories’ Davis gun, which will fire the test assembly into a pool of water as part of experiments for the B61-12 Life Extension Program

This test is the last of three development flight tests for the B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP).

The B61-12 test asset was released by a USAF F-15E Strike Eagle and it “demonstrated successful performance in a realistic guided flight environment”, the statement said.

Initial indications revealed that “all scheduled activities occurred successfully and that telemetry, tracking and video data were properly collected”.

The development flight test asset contained representative non-nuclear components but no highly enriched uranium or plutonium, which is consistent with test treaty obligations, NNSA stressed.

Although the tail-kit assembly guided the test unit, the B61-12 nuclear weapon will have no more capabilities than the legacy B61 nuclear weapons and is not GPS-guided.

The B61-12 is expected to replace earlier B61 models, including the B61-3, B61-4, B61-7, and B61-10. Development engineering of the B61-12 LEP began in February 2012 as a joint USAF-NNSA program.


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