The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF), in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), successfully completed three non-nuclear system development flight tests of the B61-12 gravity bomb on August 21 at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
These development flight tests are a key milestone in the B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) and set the stage for the final weapon system demonstration test from F-16 aircraft in 2020. The program will extend the bomb’s service life while improving its safety, security, and reliability.
“The B61-12 will strengthen the U.S. strategic deterrent while reassuring our allies,” said Brig. Gen. Ty Neuman, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “These successful tests are a result of close collaboration between NNSA, the National Laboratories, the Air Force, and NATO.”
The B61-12 LEP is an NNSA and USAF program under the oversight of the Nuclear Weapons Council, a joint Department of Defense and DOE/NNSA organization established to facilitate cooperation and coordination in the management of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.
When fielded, the B61-12 will contribute significantly to the deterrence of potential adversaries and the assurance of Allies. Combined with U.S. and Allied dual-capable aircraft, the B61-12 will send a clear signal to any potential adversary that the United States and NATO possess the capability to maintain a credible deterrent in a changing security environment.