U.S. Air Force Drops Upgraded Nuclear Bomb | Fighter Sweep

Earlier this month, the United States Air Force–in conjunction with the National Nuclear Security Agency–dropped an inert B61-12 nuclear bomb over the Tonopah Test Range as part of an ongoing Life Extension Program (LEP).

Designed and fielded in the 1960s as a tactical nuclear weapon, the B61 measures 11 ft 8 inches long, has a diameter of 13 inches, and weighs approximately 700 pounds. The casing of the bomb is streamlined, optimized for exterior carriage aboard aircraft capable of supersonic flight.

via U.S. Air Force Drops Upgraded Nuclear Bomb | Fighter Sweep.

One wonders if this was a “shape” test, with a ballisticaly identical weapon, lacking any weapon components, or if it was an all up round, minus the physics package.

The B-61 has been the primary air dropped nuclear bomb for decades now. There was a time, not so long ago, where virtually every pilot that flew attack jets spent a not inconsiderable amount of his time becoming certified to fly nuclear strike missions. Not to mention being enrolled in the Personal Reliability Program, which was something like a continuous background check for a Top Secret clearance.

If any operational F-15E squadrons still train for a nuclear mission, I haven’t heard it.

5 thoughts on “U.S. Air Force Drops Upgraded Nuclear Bomb | Fighter Sweep”

  1. Jeez, you would hope the details of the personell enrolled in the reliability programs were more closely held than the 8% whose records were comprised by OPA. I know I would, but somehow, I doubt it.

  2. I don’t understand why we have air dropped nuclear bombs. If I were the pilot, I’d much rather shoot off an SRAM.

    At the very least put some GBU-53 type wings on the B-61. Preferably a GLSDB rocket motor too.

  3. Heh. I read the headline with “drops” as in “is no longer working on.” Glad that isn’t the case, because it’s all too common these days.

  4. “If any operational F-15E squadrons still train for a nuclear mission, I haven’t heard it.”

    My nephew just finished Tech school, and is headed to an F-15 squadron at Lakenheath in the UK. He just had to do the PRP thing, so I imagine they are still training for the nuke mission. Just my 2 cents, without any actual knowledge, mind you.

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