WASHINGTON – In the United States last month, November 23, the assembly of the first serial guided thermonuclear bomb B61-12 Life Extension Program [LEP] was completed. This was announced on December 2, by the US National Nuclear Security Administration, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
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According to the report, the B61-12 bomb modernization project lasted more than nine years – such a long period was required for the design, development, qualification, and production of components.
Full-scale mass production of these bombs is scheduled to begin in May 2022. In total, the program is expected to produce more than four hundred bombs by the end of 2026. In total, the project should cost about $ 12 billion.
According to the US National Nuclear Security Administration, the modernization will keep the bomb in operation for another 20 years and “will continue to ensure the safety and effectiveness of weapons.”
It is known that B61-12 should replace other tactical versions of this bomb [-3, -4, and -7] and will probably be stored at US and NATO bases in Europe. The main carriers of this bomb will be F-35A and F-15E fighters.
What is a B61-12 thermonuclear bomb?
The B61-12 thermonuclear bomb belongs to the B61 family. B61 is the main thermonuclear gravitational bomb of the United States, actively developed amid the Cold War with the Eastern blog close to the USSR.
According to the characteristics known to the general public, B61 has the possibility of a complete explosion, ie. a full range of ignition and delivery options, whether by air or ground. The B61 is capable of reaching supersonic flight speeds. The dimensions of the thermonuclear bomb are 3.56 m long, 33 cm in diameter, and a total weight of about 320 kg. Military experts say that depending on the B61 version, the weight can vary.
The latest modification of the B61 is the B61 Mod 12 or B61-12. One of the tests of the B61 Mod 12 at the very beginning of its development showed that this thermonuclear bomb can penetrate underground and reach an equivalent ability to explode on the surface of weapons from 750 kilotons to 1.25 megatons.
Experts say that “underground penetration” was not planned, but it is good news, as B61 Mod 12 could become a successful replacement for B61 Mod 11, whose main function is underground penetration. The B61 Mod 11 is expected to be decommissioned by the end of 2030.
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