‘Significant’ Alterations Seen in Updated B-61 Bomb: Report

Technicians prepare a B-61 nuclear gravity bomb for inspection at the Pantex Plant in Texas. An issue expert on Friday said a developmental variant of the weapon includes notable alterations.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
Diane Barnes
Feb. 28, 2014, 10:16 a.m.

De­vel­op­ment­al up­dates to a U.S. nuc­le­ar grav­ity bomb in­clude “sig­ni­fic­ant” al­ter­a­tions to key weapon com­pon­ents, says a new in­de­pend­ent re­port.

The B-61 bomb’s “Mod 12” vari­ant in­cor­por­ates a fully re­vamped back sec­tion, and lacks the para­chute in­cor­por­ated in pre­de­cessors, ac­cord­ing to the Fri­day im­age ana­lys­is by Hans Kristensen, dir­ect­or of the Nuc­le­ar In­form­a­tion Pro­ject at the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­ic­an Sci­ent­ists.

The altered weapon’s Air Force-de­veloped “tail kit” is de­signed to im­prove its tar­get­ing pre­ci­sion. Kristensen wrote that the new vari­ant’s ex­act ac­cur­acy re­mains un­cer­tain, but there is a roughly 98-foot mar­gin of er­ror in non-nuc­le­ar weapons fit­ted with the In­tern­al Nav­ig­a­tion Sys­tem thought to be in­cluded in the forth­com­ing B-61 bomb up­date.

“Even if [the pre­ci­sion] were a little less for the B-61-12, it is still a sig­ni­fic­ant im­prove­ment of the [360- to 590-foot] ac­cur­acy that nuc­le­ar grav­ity bombs nor­mally achieve in test drops,” Kristensen wrote in his as­sess­ment, pub­lished on the FAS Stra­tegic Se­cur­ity blog.

Bombs re­fur­bished un­der the U.S. B-61 life-ex­ten­sion pro­gram are slated for de­ploy­ment in sev­er­al al­lied NATO states in Europe, re­pla­cing older ver­sions. Kristensen wrote that des­pite plans to re­vamp the weapons with new det­on­a­tion fea­tures and com­pon­ents to in­crease their ac­cur­acy, law­makers in Bel­gi­um and the Neth­er­lands said Wash­ing­ton had not aler­ted them to “the up­com­ing de­ploy­ment of im­proved nuc­le­ar cap­ab­il­it­ies in their coun­tries.”

“The [Bel­gian and Dutch] gov­ern­ment po­s­i­tion is that there is no im­prove­ment and there­fore no need to in­form any­one,” he wrote.

What We're Following See More »
FISHING EXPEDITION
Some Members Seek to Wrap Up Russia Investigations by Year’s End
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A growing number of key Republicans are sending this message to the leaders of the congressional committees investigating potential Trump campaign collusion with the Russians: Wrap it up soon. In the House and Senate, several Republicans who sit on key committees are starting to grumble that the investigations have spanned the better part of the past nine months, contending that the Democratic push to extend the investigation well into next year could amount to a fishing expedition."

Source:
WROTE LAW THAT WEAKENED OPIOID OVERSIGHT
Trump: Marino Withdrawing Nomination for Drug Czar
1 days ago
THE LATEST
Doesn’t Express Confidence in Marino
Trump to Declare Opioid Emergency Next Week
2 days ago
THE LATEST

After initially promising it in August, "President Trump said Monday that he will declare a national emergency next week to address the opioid epidemic." When asked, he also "declined to express confidence in Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), his nominee for drug czar, in the wake of revelations that the lawmaker helped steer legislation making it harder to act against giant drug companies."

Source:
IN LIGHT OF 60 MINUTES REVELATIONS
Manchin Asks Trump to Drop Marino’s Nomination for Drug Czar
2 days ago
THE LATEST
WOULD OVERTURN MARINO LEGISLATION ON DRUG DISTRIBUTORS
McCaskill Will Introduce Bill in Response to “60 Minutes” Scoop
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

In the wake of Sunday's blockbuster 60 Minutes/Washington Post report on opioid regulation and enforcement, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has introduced legislation that "would repeal a 2016 law that hampered the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to regulate opioid distributors it suspects of misconduct." In a statement, McCaskill said: “Media reports indicate that this law has significantly affected the government’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors that are failing to meet their obligations and endangering our communities."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login