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USA’s B61-12 gravity bomb of limited usefulness, but enormous cost.

Air Force conducts flight testing on new nuclear bomb — but do they need it? SOFREP News, BY ALEX HOLLINGS 07.04.2018  Late last week, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the U.S. Air Force announced two successful “end to end” non-nuclear system qualification flight tests aboard B-2 Spirits for the newest nuclear bomb to enter into the American arsenal, the B61-12 gravity bomb.

These tests are intended to determine how effectively the bombs can be loaded onto aircraft and deployed using existing methodologies and procedures. Incorporating this new bomb design into existing processes is important for multiple reasons: specialized training for specific weapons systems would dramatically increase the overall cost of the platform’s introduction, and because the B61-12 gravity bomb is slated to slowly replace America’s existing stockpile of B61 nuclear bomb variants, it’s important that the new bombs blend seamlessly into the force. It will take time to transition the old platforms into new ones, and in the meantime, the whole family of B61 bombs needs to be able to play well with one another.

……… Despite rising concerns about the growing expense related to the B61-12 program, these new platforms are expected to enter service within the next two years, phasing out existing B61-3, -4, -7, and -10 bombs by 2025. The last legacy bombs to remain in the arsenal will be the B83-1 and B61-11 gravity bomb, both of which possess superior penetration capabilities intended to access and destroy bunkers and other underground facilities.

…….. Unlike nuclear missiles, the B61 family of bombs are simply dropped over their targets the old-fashioned way, using a tail section for stability and offering no further propulsion or navigation.

With America looking to maintain its reliance on the B-52 Stratofortress as integral to the airborne portion of the nuclear triad, it’s hard to imagine a conflict that could see these bombs being dropped from the aging platform at all. The Air Force acknowledges that the B-52 is too slow and lacks the stealth to fly into contested airspace (where such a bomb would almost certainly be used), and the B-2 is currently slated for retirement once the new B-21 Raider enters service. ……..


July 6, 2018 - Posted by | business and costs, USA, weapons and war

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