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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the U.S Air Force announced today the completion of two qualification flight tests of the B61-12 gravity bomb at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada. Completed November 7-8, 2017, these tests continue a series of qualification flight tests that will be conducted over the next three years.
“These tests continue to demonstrate that the B61-12 meets requirements and marks another on-time achievement for the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “The completion of this milestone is a testament to the dedication of our workforce and the joint NNSA-U.S. Air Force team.”
The tests involved releasing non-nuclear configured joint test assemblies from two F-15Es based at Nellis Air Force Base, demonstrating the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon and the weapon’s non-nuclear functions. The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory and manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants. The tail-kit assembly section was designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
The B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) entered Phase 6.4 Production Engineering in June 2016 under the oversight of the Nuclear Weapons Council, a joint Department of Defense and DOE/NNSA organization established to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the two departments.
The program will extend the bomb’s service life while improving its safety, security, and reliability. The B61-12 will consolidate and replace the existing B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.
The B61-12 LEP is a joint NNSA and Air Force program that preserves a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and demonstrates continued support for extended deterrence and assurance commitments.
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.