The US Air Force’s (USAF) B-2A Spirit stealth bomber aircraft has released B61-12 joint test assembly (JTA) using a new nuclear capability.

The demonstration was conducted as part of a capstone test at the Tonopah Test Range on 14 June. 

It was led by the 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) in collaboration with the 509th Bomb Wing (BW), Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC), Boeing and Sandia National Labs.

Known as Radar Aided Targeting System (RATS), the new nuclear tactic can only be tested on a B-2A bomber aircraft.

This capability enhances weapon guidance precision in surroundings with reduced global positioning system (GPS) availability.

USAF 72nd TES B-2 weapons flight commander captain David Durham said: “We flew multiple sorties testing RATS capability over last nine months and collected test points on its performance.

“Using RATS for JTA release demonstrated what new capability brings to the warfighter.

“This test was also the first release of the production unit of B61-12 JTA.”

The team also conducted a flight test for the RATS Application Tool, which was designed by the 72d TES.

This tool helps the aircraft pilot by providing an early indicator of RATS’ functionality while further validating that the system is operating correctly before the weapon is released. 

72nd TES lead analysis software developer master sergeant Matthew Gibson said: “Due to the success of this product, we’ve received requests to build tools for other in-flight capabilities from the 509th BW and 325th Weapons Squadron.” 

The future B61-12 JTA releases will be conducted during annual Weapon System Evaluation Programme flight tests, under the surveillance tests of the US Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration.