The last time we discussed America's B61 nuclear bombs, was in the aftermath of Erdogan's staged coup, after Turkey shut the power and suspended all operations at the local Incirlik NATO airbase, where over 50 of the same nuclear bombs are stored. Now it appears that particular nuclear bomb is about to get a long overdue facelift. According to a statement by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Obama administration has given the go-ahead for work on upgrading the B61 airborne nuclear bomb, as the Pentagon is eager to embark on a multi-billion-dollar scheme to improve the US nuclear arsenal.
The decision by the NNSA authorized the program to enter a post-engineering phase, which comes after four years of work to, in technical terms, "preserve a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent." As a result, the first upgraded bombs are set to roll out by 2020. The B61 has been the principal US airborne nuclear bomb since 1968, when the first version was commissioned. With some of the modifications being canceled over the years and others withdrawn from use, only models 3,4,7,11 and 12 are currently in active service.
In the NNSA statement, Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz (Ret.) said that “Reaching this next phase of the B61-12 LEP is a major achievement for NNSA and the exceptionally talented scientists and engineers whose work underpins this vital national security mission."
“Currently, the B61 contains the oldest components in the US arsenal. This LEP (life extension program) will add at least an additional 20 years to the life of the system,” he added.