Tag Archives: B61 nuclear bomb

In other news, a U.S. F-16 has dropped an inert B61-12 nuclear bomb over Nevada last month

B-61 inert nuclear gravity bomb has passed first F-16 flight test.

On Mar. 14, an F-16 from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada, dropped a B61-12 over the Nellis Test and Training Range Complex in the first test use of the upgraded B61 with the F-16 aircraft.

The B61-12 represent the latest LEP (Life-Extention Program) upgrade to the B61 line of nuclear weapons that has already been extensively tested with the F-15E Strike Eagles of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, back in 2015.

The Life Extension Program or LEP, will replace the B61 -3, -4, -7, and -10 mods, with the -12 that, along with the B83, will become the only remaining gravity delivered nukes in the inventory.

“The B61-12 gravity bomb ensures the current capability for the air-delivered leg of the U.S. strategic nuclear triad well into the future for both bombers and dual-capable aircraft supporting NATO,” said Paul Waugh, AFNWC’s Air-Delivered Capabilities director in a U.S. Air Force release dated Apr. 13 (more or less when the world learned about the first use of the famous MOAB in Afghanistan). The B61-12 will be compatible with the B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft.

The LEP increases the B61’s accuracy so much that it will have the same capability against hardened targets as the much more powerful weapons it is replacing.

Unique photographs show U.S. F-15E carrying B61 JTA mock nuclear bombs during tests at Nellis AFB

You don’t happen to see an aircraft carrying two dummy nuclear bombs.

As we reported in July 2015, the U.S. Air Force is conducting a series of test drops, in Nevada, of the latest LEP (Life-Extention Program) upgrade to the B61 line of nuclear weapons: the B61-12.

These tests involve F-15E Strike Eagles of the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, as shown in the accompanying photos taken in the early morning hours of Oct. 20 by The Aviationist’s contributor Eric Bowen.

F-15E nuke take off
As you can see the F-15E carries two bright orange B61-12 Joint Test Assemblies (JTA) as it is leaving Nellis AFB: noteworthy, the two devices are not quite identical to one another both in overall color pattern, and more interestingly, the tips of each JTA appears to be different.

As Bowen reported in an email to The Aviationist, the Strike Eagle and its unarmed chase plane returned to Nellis AFB approximately 2 hours later with only 1 of the dummy bombs still on board.

F-15E nuke landing
The Life Extension Program or LEP, will replace the B61 -3, -4, -7, and -10 mods, with the -12 that, along with the B83, will become the only remaining gravity delivered nukes in the inventory.

The LEP increases the B61’s accuracy so much that it will have the same capability against hardened targets as the much more powerful weapons it is replacing.

Image credit: Eric Bowen

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U.S. B61 Nukes to get precision guidance systems

Even if UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are often referred to as  U.S. “killing machines”, the effect of a drone attack is almost forgettable if compared to the devastating and widespread effect of nuclear bombs, that remain America’s main means of deterrence.

According to the International Defence Review magazine the gravitational free falling B61 nuclear bombs are to get a precision guidance system that would allow for a greater accuracy and for a modest stand-off capability.

Earlier, the only way to compensate the lack of precision was an adjustment of the warhead power.

The B61 is the basic nuke in the USAF arsenal and the only US nuclear bomb present in the arms storages in Europe. Interestingly, the bomb (in the -12 variant) can be carried by all current and future American platforms including the LRS-B, and the Tornado.

It is an old bomb, since its beginnings date back to 1965 and the Los Alamos lab, and the production lasted for almost 35 years.

The bomb had 9 variants, some of which, such as B61-3 and B61-4 were designed to be used by tactical aviation, while B61-7 and  B61-11 were prepared to be used from high altitudes by B-2 and B-52 bombers. 3,155 bombs were made, with a 1,000 having operational readiness status.

The modernization is a part of LEP (Life Extension Program) and is a priority, since B61 comes from the 1960s. B61-12 variant (400-500 examples) is to replace all earlier variants of B61, as well as the B83 bombs. In CONUS and Europe.

Written with David Cenciotti

Image credit: Wiki

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Google doesn’t want you to see Volkel Airbase (The Netherlands) from above

The following image is a screenshot from GoogleEarth.

It shows Volkel airbase, the Netherlands, blocked out by Google because it is one of the European sites hosting a U.S. nuclear weapon repository.

Volkel is the base of the 312 and 313 Sqn of the RNlAF (Royal Netherlands Air Force): according to Wikipedia, Dutch F-16AMs can at times be seen carrying BDU-38 dummy bombs, which are used to simulate the B61 nuclear bombs, 22 of those are believed to be stored there (as of 2008).

By the way, Bing Maps shows all the base but the northern part, that is blacked-out.

Volkel AB

Someone told this author that the reason for blurring the airport is to comply with the request by the Dutch authorities to hide military installations. Still, this would not explain why Leeuwarden airbase is clearly visibile on Google Earth.

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