The U.S. Air Force and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Successfully launched a third flight test of the newly upgraded B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb.
The USAF announced on Tuesday that the test showed the nation’s “continued commitment to security.”
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While the announcement comes against the backdrop of the weekend’s terror attacks in Paris, the test itself was actually conducted on October 20 at Tonopah Test Range, according to officials at the NNSA and USAF. The test was used to assess the weapon’s non-nuclear components, but the bomb itself contained no highly enriched uranium or plutonium.
“This demonstration of effective end-to-end system performance under representative delivery conditions marks another 2015 achievement in the development of the B61-12 Life Extension Program,” NNSA Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon said, calling the flight test “evidence” of “[our] commitment to our nation’s security and that of our allies and partners.”
During the test, an F-15E took from Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada released the B61-12 bomb and demonstrated it in “a realistic guided flight environment,” the joint NNSA and USAF announcement said. Initial reports were that everything went as planned, and that the telemetry, tracking, and video data were all collected without issue.
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The hardware featured in the flight test was co-designed by the Sandia National and Los Alamos National Laboratories, manufactured by the National Security Enterprise Plants, and attached to a tail-kit assembly designed by Boeing. While the tail-kit assembly guided the test unit, the NNSA and USAF noted that the actual nuclear weapons will not be guided by GPS.
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