U.S. Tests B61-12 Gravity Nuclear Bomb Amid Growing Tensions Over North Korea

JohnThomas Didymus

Amid growing tensions in the Korean Peninsula over North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's nuclear program, and after the first-ever combat use of the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Blast Bomb, also known as the "Mother Of All Bombs," the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced on Friday the successful field test of a modernized "steerable" version of the B61 gravity nuclear bomb in Nevada.

The NNSA, the section of the Department of Energy (DoE) responsible for nuclear weapons, said in a statement that it completed in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force "the first qualification flight test of the B61-12 gravity bomb on March 14 at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada."

The statement went on to say that the "non-nuclear test assembly" was dropped from an F-16 fighter that took off from Nellis Air Force Base. The test was designed to evaluate "both the weapon's non-nuclear functions as well as the aircraft's (USAF F-16 fighter) capability to deliver the weapon," according to the statement by the NNSA.

"An F-16 fighter from Nellis Air Force Base dropped the 'non-nuclear test assembly.'"

The NNSA conducted three successful development flight tests of the weapon in 2015.

"The successful test provides critical qualification data to validate that the baseline design meets military requirements. It reflects continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners."

They have served as the mainstay of the USAF's nuclear arsenal and a vital component of the nuclear triad composed also of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) deployed from land-based silos and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

The administration of President Donald Trump is pursuing a program, initiated by the previous administration, to modernize the U.S. nuclear triad.

The latest news comes after the U.S. military in Afghanistan dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB) on a system of tunnels operated by ISIS militants in the remote eastern province of Nangarhar in Afghanistan. Military authorities said that the incident was the first combat use of the MOAB bomb, the largest conventional bomb ever dropped by the U.S. military.

He also said that four ISIS military leaders were killed in the attack.

Brian Becker, the director of the anti-war ANSWER coalition, told RT that the U.S. military was enjoying a new freedom to test munitions they had not been able to test under the previous administration.

"In order to placate his critics, in the media and in politics, Trump has given a blank check to his generals. So they are having a grand time right now, and they are testing all the weapons they've been wanting to test, but not been able to," Becker said.

[Featured Image by Joe Cavaretta/AP Images]