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U.S. Air Force tests new nuclear gravity bomb with F-35A: Declassified footage

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The United States Air Force has successfully run a round of flight tests to deploy the new B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb with the high-tech F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, The Jerusalem Post‘s military reporter Anna Ahronheim reported on Tuesday. The test was conducted in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories.

While the test occurred on August 25 at the Nevada Test and Training Range, the video of the test was just declassified on Monday. The video published by Sandia shows the stealth fighter dropping an inert version of the bomb from its internal bomb bay at about 10,500 feet, all while flying faster than the speed of sound. The device contained non-nuclear and mock nuclear components and hit the desert ground at the designated target area 42 seconds after release.

“We successfully executed this historic, first-ever F-35A flight test at Tonopah Test Range within the specified delivery criteria,” range manager Brian Adkins was quoted as saying in the JP report.

According to Ahronheim, the B61-12 is the latest variant of the B61 family of air-launched nuclear gravity bombs, which have been operational with the U.S. military since 1968.

The intention of this new version of the bomb is to improve the U.S. Air Force’s nuclear capabilities, Ahronheim wrote, and allied nations and can be launched by platforms such as the B-2A, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, PA-200, F-35 and B-21.

The 12-foot-long bomb, which weighs approximately 824 pounds, can fit inside the internal weapons bay of the platforms. This means that the F-35 would not sacrifice its stealth capabilities by carrying it, per the report.

The report also details that this version of the bomb, which carries a low-yield nuclear warhead, has four different yield options: 0.3 kilotons, 1.5 kilotons, 10 kilotons, and 50 kilotons.

The August test was part of a series of demonstrations testing the B61-12 full-weapons system on other aircraft such as the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet in March and the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber in July, Ahronheim noted. The test with the F-35 was the first demonstration of the bomb from an internal bomb bay on a fighter jet and the first time the bomb was released at speeds of Mach 1 or greater.

“This was the first test to exercise all systems, including mechanical, electrical, communication and release between the B61-12 and the F-35A,” said Steven Samuels, a manager with Sandia’s B61-12 Systems Team in a statement. “We’re showing the B61-12’s larger compatibility and broader versatility for the country’s nuclear deterrence.”

The latest test “is a critical piece” of both the F-35A and B61-12 programs, according to Samuels.

“Aboard the newest fighter, the B61-12 provides a strong piece of the overall nuclear deterrence strategy for our country and our allies,” he said.

The F-35 will be able to carry the bomb internally and at supersonic speeds while in full stealth mode, Ahronheim added. This is unlike the F-15, which would carry the B61-12 externally and without stealth capability, and the B-2, which flies below the speed of sound.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Canadian-U.S. border illegal crossings up 240% over previous year

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The vulnerability of the northern border of the United States is being weaponized in the war on illegal migration. 2023 saw a 240% increase of individuals apprehended from just one year prior. Not only is the border with Canada significantly longer than its border with Mexico, but its ports of entry are often understaffed while the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is forced to prioritize the southern surge.

According to recent data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in 2023 authorities halted over 12,000 migrants attempting illegal crossings at the Canadian border. The number is a 240% increase from the preceding year when 3,579 individuals were apprehended.

ADN America reports that approximately 70% of the illegal crossings took place along a 295-mile stretch along the northern New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire border called the Swanton Sector.

Chief patrol agent for the sector, Robert Garcia, posted on social media that the 3,100 individuals apprehended were from 55 different countries. 

Garcia wrote “the record-breaking surge of illegal entries from Canada continues in Swanton Sector” and he specifically mentioned that the arrest of 10 Bangladeshi citizens was prompted by a citizen’s report in Champlain, New York.

Surprisingly, ADN reports:

A significant number of those engaging in illegal crossings are Mexicans who exploit the opportunity to fly to Canada without a visa, also avoiding the presence of cartels in their home countries.

Experts suggest that migrants can purchase a $350 one-way plane ticket from Mexico City or Cancun to Montreal or Toronto. This route is perceived as offering a lower likelihood of being turned away compared to those crossing the southern border.

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