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October 9, 2016

USAF and NNSA conduct flight tests of mock nuclear weapons

The US Air Force (USAF) Global Strike Command and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have successfully conducted flight tests of mock nuclear weapons.

By Srivari Aishwarya

The US Air Force (USAF) Global Strike Command and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have successfully conducted flight tests of mock nuclear weapons.

The tests saw two separate B-2A Spirit stealth bombers from the 509th Bomber Wing drop joint test assemblies (JTA) of the B61-7 and B61-11.

These trials were conducted to validate the performance of the JTAs in operationally representative conditions.

NNSA military application principal assistant deputy administrator brigadier general Michael Lutton said: “The B61 is a critical element of the US nuclear triad and the extended deterrent.

“The recent surveillance flight tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective.”

JTAs are mock weapons that contain no nuclear materials and are not capable of nuclear yield.

"The recent surveillance flight tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective."

These assemblies are equipped with sensors and flight recorder that stores bomb performance data for each test, therefore allow scientists and engineers from national laboratories to assess their performance.

NNSA said that its scientists and engineers will 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 assemblies are jointly designed by Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories, while their components are manufactured at the Kansas City National Security Campus and assembled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.


Image: A B-2 bomber releasing a B61-11 JTA in a previous legacy flight test. Photo: courtesy of NNSA / US Department of Energy.

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