Albuquerque, N.M.( AP) — Scientists at Sandia National Laboratory are claiming success with the first in a further series of test flights involving an upgraded version of a nuclear bomb that has been part of the U.S. arsenal for decades.
Work on the B61-12 has been ongoing for years, and government officials say the latest exams applying taunt versions of the bomb will be vital to the refurbishing effort.
An F-1 6 from Nellis Air Force Base dropped an inert version of the weapon over the Nevada desert last-place month to experiment its non-nuclear roles as well as the plane& apos; s ability to carry the bomb.
With a mere whiff of dust, the taunt bomb property in a dry lake bunk at the Tonopah Test Range.
“It& apos; s great to see things all come together: the weapon designing, the test formulation, the aircraft, the scope and the ones who stimulated it happen, ” Anna Schauer, head of Sandia& apos; s Stockpile Resource Center, said in a statement.
Scientists are planning to expend months investigating the data gathered from the test.
Tracking telescopes, remote cameras and other instruments at the test scope recorded information on the reliability, accuracy and its implementation of the weapon under conditions that were meant to replicate real-world operations.
More test flights are projected over the next three years, and officials with the National Nuclear Security Administration said the first production unit of the B61-12 — developed under what is called the Life Extension Program — is scheduled to be completed in 2020.
The B6 1-12 consolidates and replaces four older versions in the commonwealth& apos; s nuclear arsenal. It& apos; s outfitted with a brand-new tail-kit assembly and other hardware.
The weapon is much different than the non-nuclear “mother of all bombs” used in Afghanistan this week to assault an Islamic State stronghold near the Pakistani border. The Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, isn& apos; t designed to penetrate like the B61-12 but instead create a large bang over the surface and it has to be ferried by a much larger airplane committed its size.
In Nevada, it took two moves before the aviator could fell the taunt B61-12. A flock of wild mares had to be chased away on the first go-around.
With the run begin, people met on balconies at the scope despite knowing they would insure merely dust rising from the target miles back. A video feed demonstrated the test bomb fall flat the breath after being released by the F-1 6.
Officials said it left behind a instead neat loophole. Crews were able to delved the taunt weapon out of the clay so it could be packed up and turned over to Albuquerque for further study.
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