HomeGlobal Defence UpdatesUS to build new nuclear gravity bomb

US to build new nuclear gravity bomb

6ROZMCEQD5DGRCRXM6ULLZPJXU

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department on Friday announced the government is moving forward with developing a new version of the B61 nuclear gravity bomb.

The new bomb, designated B61-13, would have a yield similar to the B61-7 and replace some of those older gravity bombs, the Pentagon said in its announcement. The B61-7′s yield is higher than the B61-12, the most recent bomb being added to the military’s arsenal.

The Pentagon said the decision to build this new weapon was made to reflect the changing security environment in line with the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. That study said the military needed to modernize its nuclear forces to properly deter its two main nuclear-armed competitors, China and Russia.

The B61-13 will use the same modern safety, security and accuracy features now incorporated into the B61-12, the Pentagon said in a fact sheet accompanying the release. It would also give the president more options to strike “harder and large-area military targets,” the Pentagon said, while the department works to retire legacy bombs such as the B61-7 and B83-1.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons expert at the Federation of American Scientists who was briefed by the Pentagon on the new bomb earlier this week, told Defense News the weapon will incorporate the same warheads from the 1980s- and 1990s-era B61-7s, transplanted into the same style casing and tail kit as the B61-12.

Kristensen said the creation of this bomb is likely intended to be a compromise to break a yearslong disagreement between Democrats and Republicans over the fate of the massive, 4-decade-old B83-1 bomb.

Former President Barack Obama sought to get rid of the 1.2-megaton B83-1 — the last megaton bomb left in the country’s nuclear arsenal and one that would explode with 80 times the force of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. But his successor, former President Donald Trump, reversed that decision.

President Joe Biden since revived efforts to get rid of the B83. But key Republican lawmakers have objected, saying the B83-1 is needed to strike hard and deeply buried targets.

The maximum yield of the B61-7 — and by extension the new variant — is 360 kilotons, Kristensen said, while the B61-12 has a maximum yield of 50 kilotons.

“This is a sweetener to the hardliners in Congress to basically say: ‘OK guys, you want something with a high yield,” Kristensen said. “ ‘Here’s a small number of them … but you also get one with a tail kit that will be more accurate.’ ”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement they welcome the creation of a new B61 variant, but that it “is only a modest step in the right direction.”

“The B61-13 is not a long-term solution, but it will provide our commanders, particularly in [the Pacific and European regions], with more flexibility against these target sets,” Rogers and Wicker said. “As the Strategic Posture Commission recently noted, China and Russia are in a full-on arms race, and the U.S. is running in place. Dramatic transformation of our deterrent posture — not incremental or piecemeal changes — is required to address this threat.”

The Pentagon said the creation of this bomb will not lead to an overall increase in the size of the military’s stockpile. The United States plans to lower the number of B61-12s it will produce by as many B61-13s it builds.

Kristensen said defense officials indicated very few B61-13s are expected to be produced, on the order of a few dozen. He doubted their creation, alongside the retirement of B61-7s, would lead to much, if any, decline in the number of gravity bombs in the United States’ arsenal, which he said is somewhere between 400 and 500.

If the B61-13 is approved and funded by lawmakers, the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration will produce it.

The Pentagon said in its announcement that modern aircraft would be able to deliver this bomb.

In a follow-up statement, a Pentagon spokesperson said that will include the B-21 Raider stealth bomber the Air Force now has in development with Northrop Grumman. But the U.S. now does not plan to deploy it on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon said.

But whether the creation of the B61-13 will ultimately be a positive development is “the million-dollar question,” Kristensen said.

“If you work for the administration and you don’t want to waste money on maintaining the [B]83, then it’s a good position,” Kristensen said. “If you work outside and you look at what’s going on, you might want to say that it’s unfortunate we have to field nuclear weapons as sort of nuclear horse trading in Congress.”

“It’s probably not a new phenomenon,” he added. “But we understand the administration has decided that this is what it needs to sort of sweet talk the defense hawks into getting rid of the [B]83.”

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

Source link

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat

All

Army gets its first indigenous man-portable suicide drones

New Delhi: The army has got its first indigenous man-portable suicide drones that are designed to target enemy training camps, launch pads and infiltrators...

Defence minister Rajnath Singh Sets ₹50k-cr military export target

New Delhi: On resuming charge as defence minister, Rajnath Singh has set a target to generate military exports worth Rs 50,000 crore on an...

AMCA 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Updates

AMCA to be integrated with sophisticated indigenous Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that making it a formidable air asset for the Indian Air Force

Source : IgMp Bureau India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is on the brink of a revolutionary transformation with the integration of a sophisticated Distributed...

AMCA to incorporate the best features of both 5th and 6th Generation fighters: ADA sources

Source : IgMp Bureau India's strides toward indigenous air dominance receive a substantial boost with the green signal for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)...

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Archive Months

Miscellanous

American F-35 stealth fighter makes roaring debut at Aero India 2023

Source : IgMp Bureau2 F-35s parked in Yelahanka Air Force station in Bengaluru (Image Source: Twitter)2 American F-16 and 2 F-35A Lightning-II 5th generation...

DRDO: DRDO carries out successful flight trial of lethal UAV

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully demonstrated the flight trial of Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator, an indigenous high-speed flying wing...

Akin To US NASAMS, Meet the Powerful Air Defense System of Russia That Shields Moscow From Ukrainian Drone Attacks

Source : The EurAsian Times Akin To US NASAMS, Meet the Powerful Air Defense System of Russia That Shields Moscow From Ukrainian Drone Attacks The heavily...

31,000 Ukrainian troops killed since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Sunday that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in action in the two years since Russia launched its...
Visits
error: Content is protected !!