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In collaboration with the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, NNSA conducted successful surveillance flight tests using joint test assemblies (JTA) of the B61-7 and B61-11 last month. Analysis and flight recorder data from the tests indicate that both were successful.
JTAs are mock weapons containing sensors and instrumentation that allow scientists and engineers from national laboratories to assess their performance. The assemblies contain no nuclear materials and are not capable of nuclear yield. These assemblies also include a flight recorder that stores bomb performance data for each test.
The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operationally representative conditions. Such testing is part of the qualification process of current alterations and life extension programs for weapon systems. NNSA scientists and engineers use data from these tests in computer simulations developed by Sandia National Laboratories to evaluate the weapon systems’ reliability and to verify that they are functioning as designed.
“The B61 is a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Lutton, NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “The recent surveillance flight tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective.”
Flight testing is performed jointly by the applicable Department of Defense military service and NNSA. The B61-7 and B61-11 test assemblies were released from two separate B-2A Spirit stealth bombers from the 509th Bomber Wing of Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The tests were conducted at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
The B61 assemblies are jointly designed by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. Their components are manufactured at the Kansas City National Security Campus and assembled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. Learn more about flight testing and NNSA’s mission to maintain the stockpile without explosive underground nuclear testing.
originally posted by: gariac
a reply to: gariac
Bloomberg article indicates a B61-12 test was done in March 2017.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and U.S. Air Force completed two qualification flight tests of B61-12 gravity bombs August 8 at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.
The non-nuclear test assemblies, which were dropped from an F-15E based at Nellis Air Force Base, evaluated the weapon’s non-nuclear functions and the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon.
These tests are part of a series over the next three years to qualify the B61-12 for service. The first qualification flight test occurred in March.
“The B61-12 life extension program is progressing on schedule to meet national security requirements,” said Phil Calbos, acting NNSA deputy administrator for Defense Programs. “These realistic flight qualification tests validate the design of the B61-12 when it comes to system performance.”
The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants, and mated to the tail-kit assembly section, designed by the Boeing Company under contract with the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center.
The B61-12 consolidates and replaces four B61 bomb variants in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The first production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.