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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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’
Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social, “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”
Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”
It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.
Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.
And the escalation of war is visible.
Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.
Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.
Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”
Morning. Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) January 26, 2023
The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”
F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.
Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.
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