The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration deployed the first production unit for the B61-12 nuclear bomb to its Pantex plant in Amarillo, Texas on November 23.
The B61-12 is the first major DOE Air Force nuclear warhead modernization program in over 30 years, and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center has worked closely with the NNSA in this design, development effort. , qualification and production of components.
For example, AFNWC led the development and production of Boeing’s new guided tail kit for the B61-12 and weapon integration with the B-2, F-15E, F-16, PA- 200 and F-35.
In close coordination with the NNSA and several Air Force participants, the AFNWC also helped conduct an intensive test program of more than 70 successful flight tests.
“The first production unit is a major step in the modernization of this nuclear deterrent of the Air Force, which plays a key role in the NATO alliance,” said Colonel Frederick Hunt, director of air forces. AFNWC air capabilities.
âAs we know well at AFNWC, each nuclear weapon is the product of a partnership between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Energy. Reaching this major milestone for the B61-12 is a testament to this partnership and the hard work of everyone involved, âsaid Major General Anthony Genatempo, AFNWC Commander and Director General of the Air Force’s program for strategic systems. âIt also shows how we can work with our nuclear partners to provide 21st century deterrence capabilities to the United States and its allies. “
According to NNSA officials, many modifications have been made to improve the B61 since it entered service in 1968. During the B61-12 life extension program, the bomb components were handed over to new, reused or replaced to extend its life by at least 20 years. . The B61-12 will replace three B61 models currently in the US nuclear stock (B61-3, -4 and -7). They plan to start its full-scale production in May 2022 and complete production in fiscal year 2026.
âIt’s a critical ability that the fighter needs soon and our opponents are taking note,â said Genatempo.
Based in Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, the AFNWC is responsible for the timing of all aspects of nuclear materiel management on behalf of Air Force Materiel Command, in direct support of Air Force Global Strike Command. The center has approximately 1,800 soldiers and civilians spread over 17 sites around the world.
(Illustration courtesy of the National Nuclear Security Administration)