Jan 12, 2009

NNSA Finishes Refurbishment of B61 Bomb

National Nuclear Security Administration
U.S. Department of Energy
For Immediate Release
January 9, 2009
Contact: NNSA Public Affairs, (202) 586-7371

NNSA Finishes Refurbishment of B61 Bomb
Program Completed Almost One Year Early

WASHINGTON, DC – The final refurbished B61 strategic nuclear bomb has entered into the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, completing an eight-year effort, according to a senior National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) official. This program extended beyond their original intended life both the B61 mod 7 and mod 11 strategic bombs, and was completed almost one year early.

“This is the culmination of an ambitious continuing effort which helped to ensure that the nation’s aging nuclear weapons stockpile continues to be reliable,” said Robert Smolen, NNSA’s deputy administrator for defense programs. “Nuclear scientists, engineers, and technicians across NNSA’s national security enterprise contributed to this effort.”

Most nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile were produced anywhere from 30 to 40 years ago, and no new nuclear weapons have been produced since the end of the Cold War. Used by the Air Force for its B-52H and B-2A bombers, the B61 mod 7 and mod 11 are modifications of the B61 mod 1, which first entered the stockpile in 1969.

NNSA must use science-based research and development to extend the lifetime of the current weapons in the stockpile. NNSA is able to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent without producing new weapons.

A ban on nuclear testing was put into place by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and NNSA has been able to continue meeting the challenge of certifying nuclear weapons without testing, including with the B61.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. Visit www.nnsa.energy.gov for more information.



Anonymous said...

Aaah...at this rate in a few more years we could be up to the "final refurbished B61" Mod 17/18 (aka the W61 Mod W76/W88).

Anonymous said...

Great article about the future of the NNSA labs here:

"DOE Weapons Labs At A Crossroad" - C&EN, Jan 12, 2009


Anonymous said...

"Great article about the future of the NNSA labs here:
"DOE Weapons Labs At A Crossroad" -C&EN, Jan 12, 2009
1/12/09 11:15 PM"

From the referenced article:

"But she now supports a new weapon if it follows a path leading to the elimination of all nuclear weapons. For Tauscher, that weapon must be safer and more secure than those in today's stockpile but identical in yield and function. She remains opposed to any testing and says that NNSA must instead rely on science to ensure the weapon works.

"No new launch platforms. No new testing. The definition of 'weapons' is not changed. What we are doing is making improvements on weapons that won't move us into where we are actually enhancing their capability," she says."

"...degree in Early Childhood Education from Seton Hall University"

Whatever your view on this topic, imo, we don't want a politician designing our nuclear weapons.

On second thought, she does have extensive experience with techniques of mass destruction since she spent 14 years on Wall Street. :)

Frank Young said...

Why does RRW have to be "identical in yield and function"? Couldn't we design in the capability to detect trees, animals, and children - and have the weapon render itself non-functional in their presence? Or even better, the weapon's function could change in their presence. It could dispense humanitarian rations and bottled water.

That's deterrence we can feel good about! Isn't that what really matters?

Anonymous said...

If memory serves me right, American nukes are number according to the year they go in service. Thus, the "B61" came on line way back in 1961!

Thus, when Iran finally rolls out their nuke, it will be much spiffier and far more modern than this old thing... something to seriously contemplate as we watch the US nuclear weapons complex budget cuts unfold.

Anonymous said...

"If memory serves me right, American nukes are number according to the year they go in service. Thus, the "B61" came on line way back in 1961!"

Umm.. I don't think you're memory is serving you right. It's not a reliable benchmark for when they "went into service"...especially when you consider some of the "mods" or perhaps the W25, B28, W/B43, etc. etc.