NNSA, Air Force complete two B61-12 Life Extension Program test flights at Tonopah Test Range

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B61-12 test

First published December 9, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the U.S Air Force announced the completion of two qualification flight tests of the B61-12 gravity bomb at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

Completed Nov. 7-8, these tests continue a series of qualification flight tests that will be conducted over the next three years.

The tests involved releasing non-nuclear configured joint test assemblies from two F-15Es based at Nellis Air Force Base, demonstrating the aircraft’s capability to deliver the weapon and the weapon’s non-nuclear functions. The flight test included hardware designed by Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory and manufactured by the Nuclear Security Enterprise plants.

The B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) entered Phase 6.4 Production Engineering in June 2016 under the oversight of the Nuclear Weapons Council, a joint Department of Defense and DOE/NNSA organization established to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the two departments.

The B61-12 LEP is a joint NNSA and Air Force program that preserves a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and demonstrates continued support for extended deterrence and assurance commitments. The first B61-12 production unit is scheduled to be completed by March 2020.

For the complete article, visit Los Alamos Daily Post, www.ladailypost.com/content/nnsa-air-force-complete-two-b61-12-life-extension-program-test-flights-tonopah-test-range

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Department of Energy, NNSA – Life Extension Programs

In summary, the current LEP and alteration plans endorsed by the Nuclear Weapons Council include the following:

  • W76-1 LEP
    • Extend the life of the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) W76 warhead for an additional 30 years by refurbishing various components.
    • Complete production no later than the end of fiscal year (FY) 2019
  • W88 Alt 370
    • Replacing the arming, fuzing, and firing system in the W88 SLBM warhead.
    • Complete development to support a first production unit no later than December 31, 2019
  • B61-12 LEP
    • Consolidation of multiple B61 mods and replacement of aging components.
    • Complete a first production unit no later than the end of FY 2020
  • W78/W88-1 LEP
    • Life extend both the Air Force’s W78 warhead and the Navy’s W88 warhead
    • Complete a first production unit no later than the end of FY 2030

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