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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and U.S. Air Force completed two qualification flight tests of B61-12 gravity bombs August 8 at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
The non-nuclear test assemblies, which were dropped from an F-15E based at Nellis Air Force Base, evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.
These tests are part of a series over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. The first qualification flight test occurred in March.
“The B61-12 life extension program is progressing on schedule to meet national security requirements,” said Phil Calbos, acting NNSA deputy administrator for Defense Programs. “These realistic flight qualification tests validate the design of the B61-12 when it comes to system performance.”
The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants, and mated to the tail-kit assembly section, designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit nnsa.energy.gov for more information.