The US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the development of America’s last nuclear weapon.
The first production unit of the B61-12 Life Extension Program is a more accurate and lower output variant of the nuclear gravity bomb, capable of being dropped from the air – either through “fire modes”. gravity or guided release “.
Replaces old bomb variants
Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the NNSA Jill hruby noted that the nine-year-old program “improves accuracy and reduces performance without changing military characteristics, while improving safety, security and reliability.”
“Work on the B61-12 will also ensure that the warhead can be delivered by air to current and future platforms to meet Department of Defense requirements,” extending the life of the munition by 20 years . Once deployed, the B61-12 will replace variants 3, 4 and 7, leaving only the 11 with it.
“Possible deterrence” against a tactical nuclear strike
According to National interest, the B61-12 allow the US Air Force to deploy the munition for “low yield nuclear attack, land-penetrating strikes, above-surface detonations and bunker explosions.” The outlet said the low-yield nuclear attack capability also provides US commanders with “possible deterrence against a more limited or tactical nuclear strike.”
Since its first deployment in 1968, the B61, deployed from US Air Force and NATO bases, has undergone multiple modifications to improve its “safety, security and reliability”.
In its latest iteration, the bomb had all of its nuclear and non-nuclear components refurbished or replaced to extend its lifespan. Large-scale production is scheduled from May 2022 to 2026.