‘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 »
FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
THE QUESTION
How Many Signatures Has the Petition for Trump’s Tax Returns Received?
3 days ago
THE ANSWER

More than 1 million, setting a record. More than 100,000 signatures triggers an official White House response.

Source:
TIED TO RUSSIA INVESTIGATION
Sen. Collins Open to Subpoena of Trump’s Tax Returns
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, "said on Wednesday she's open to using a subpoena to investigate President Donald Trump's tax returns for potential connections to Russia." She said the committee is also open to subpoenaing Trump himself. "This is a counter-intelligence operation in many ways," she said of Russia's interference. "That's what our committee specializes in. We are used to probing in depth in this area."

Source:
NPR ALSO LAUNCHES ETHICS WATCH
Obama Staffers Launch Group to Monitor Trump Ethics
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

"Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months." Meanwhile, NPR has launched a "Trump Ethics Monitor" to track the resolution of ten ethics-related promises that the president has made.

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