West News Wire: The US has carried out the “first production unit” of its modernized B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb, set to replace the modern growing old models of the iconic B61, which has remained in carrier for extra than 50 years.

The completion of the upgraded variable-yield nuclear bomb used to be introduced with the aid of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on Thursday. The “first production unit” (FPU) used to be put collectively on November 23, paving the way for mass-production of the modernized bomb, anticipated to commence in May 2022.

“With this program, we’re turning in a system to the Department of Defense that improves accuracy and reduces yield with no change in army characteristics, whilst also improving safety, safety and reliability,” Department of Energy Under Secretary and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby stated.

The modernization correctly turns the free-fall bomb into an adjustable munition, as the new B61-12s come with a guided tail kit furnished through Boeing. The kit gives the bomb some capability to maneuver mid-air as an alternative of honestly falling to the ground.

The arrival of the first B61-12 is over a 12 months late, as the modernization program, with an estimated fee of some $12 billion, ran into problems with capacitor elements in late 2019. Back then, the NNSA discovered that the capacitors, used in each the B61-12 and the Navy’s W88 Alteration 370 warhead for submarine-launched missiles, should not meet the military’s specifications.

The new version of the iconic bomb is set to substitute the B61-3, 4, and 7 fashions currently in the US nuclear stockpile. The solely variant to continue to be in use alongside the B61-12 is the B61-11, a distinctly contemporary bunker-buster change of the bomb.

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The US is expected to manufacture some 480 B61-12 bombs, according to estimates with the aid of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a Washington-based non-profit. The bomb is believed to have a variable yield ranging from 0.3 to 50 kilotons, making it a flexible weapon that can be used both for tactical and strategic purposes.

In comparison, the first nuclear bomb ever used via the US, which was once dropped on the Japanese metropolis of Hiroshima, had a yield of some 15 kilotons.

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