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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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Multiple states launch lawsuit against Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan

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Breaking Thursday, the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, and South Carolina joined together to file a lawsuit against President Biden’s administration in order to stop the student loan-forgiveness program from taking effect.

“In addition to being economically unwise and downright unfair, the Biden Administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is yet another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions,” argued the plaintiffs in their filing.

The attorneys general spearheading the legal challenge also submit that “no statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed.”

Biden, however, has argued that he is able to unilaterally cancel student debt to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, writes National Review, a Department of Education memo released by his administration asserts that the HEROES Act,  which passed in 2003 and allows the secretary of education to provide student-debt relief “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency,” provides the legal basis for the cancellation.

But, National Review notes that the plaintiffs point out that Biden declared in a recent 60 Minutes interview that “the pandemic is over.”

The legal brief also adds:

“The [HEROES] Act requires ED [Education Department] to tailor any waiver or modification as necessary to address the actual financial harm suffered by a borrower due to the relevant military operation or emergency… This relief comes to every borrower regardless of whether her income rose or fell during the pandemic or whether she is in a better position today as to her student loans than before the pandemic.”

Moreover, they argue that the HEROES Act was designed to allow the secretary to provide relief in individual cases with proper justification.

The first lawsuit against Biden’s executive order came Tuesday from the Pacific Legal Foundation:

“The administration has created new problems for borrowers in at least six states that tax loan cancellation as income. People like Plaintiff Frank Garrison will actually be worse off because of the cancellation. Indeed, Mr. Garrison will face immediate tax liability from the state of Indiana because of the automatic cancellation of a portion of his debt,” wrote PLF in their own brief.

The state-led lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Missouri, and asks that the court “temporarily restrain and preliminarily and permanently enjoin implementation and enforcement of the Mass Debt Cancellation,” and declare that it “violates the separation of powers established by the U.S. Constitution,” as well as the Administrative Procedure Act.

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