Washington: The US government has successfully set up its First Production Unit (FPU) to extend the operational life of the nation’s arsenal B61 directly dropped or “gravity bomb” nuclear weapons, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced in a press release.
“The US Department of Energy’s NNSA successfully completed the B61-12 Life Extension Program (LEP) FPU on November 23, 2021,” the release said on Thursday. “The B61-12 LEP helps modernize America’s nuclear weapons stockpile and sustain the Nation’s air-delivered nuclear deterrent capability.”
The nuclear security enterprise, in close coordination with the US Air Force, worked together to deliver the B61-12 FPU after more than nine years of design, development, qualification, and component production, the NNSA said.
“With this program, we’re delivering a system to the Department of Defense that improves accuracy and reduces yield with no change in military characteristics, while also improving safety, security and reliability,” Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby said.
The B61-12 LEP reuses or replaces all of the bomb’s components to extend its service life by at least 20 years. The NNSA anticipates starting full-scale production in May 2022 and completing all needed production in Fiscal Year (FY) 2026,” Deputy NNSA Administrator for Defense Programs Charles Verdon said.