Sandia completes first flight tests of B61-12 nuclear bomb with F-35A

24 November 2020 (Last Updated November 24th, 2020 16:00)

Sandia National Laboratories has announced the completion of the first flight tests of the B61-12 nuclear bomb with the US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Lightning II fighter jet.

Sandia National Laboratories has announced the completion of the first flight tests of the B61-12 nuclear bomb with the US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Lightning II fighter jet.

It included a mock strike of the B61-12 bomb from the aircraft at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

The test was carried out on 25 August, during which a F-35A dropped the B61-12, which contained the non-nuclear and mock nuclear components, from a height of 10,500ft above Tonopah Test Range.

The inert bomb hit the desert floor within the allocated target area around 42 seconds later.

It is the first in a series of tests that will be completed with full weapon systems demonstrations.

Sandia B61-12 systems team manager Steven Samuels said: “We’re showing the B61-12’s larger compatibility and broader versatility for the country’s nuclear deterrent, and we’re doing it in the world of Covid-19.

“We are not slowing down. We’re still moving forward with the B61-12 compatibility activities on different platforms.”

In March, Sandia carried out a B61-12 weapon system demonstration with the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet, in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the USAF.

In July, the demonstration was carried out the USAF’s B-2 Spirit bomber.

In 2018, the USAF completed two qualification flight tests of the B61-12 gravity bomb with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE / NNSA).