Fitting In

Air Force and Energy Department engineers performed tests in the past six months to verify that the modified B61 nuclear bomb in development will fit on the F-15E and F-16, said Frank Klotz, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Wind tunnel tests of B61-12 mockups have also occurred in that timeframe, he said in his speech at the symposium on the strategic nuclear enterprise sponsored by Task Force 21 of Minot, N.D., along with AFA and defense companies. “All tests conducted this year have gone very well,” said Klotz. Soon, engineers will conduct similar fit checks on the B-2 bomber, he said. Overall, there’s been “substantial progress this year,” on the B61-12 modifications, which are in full-scale engineering development, said Klotz. Delivery of the first production B61-12 is slated for 2020, he said. The modifications involve “a significant overhaul” that includes refurbishing and replacing many bomb components designed more than 30 years ago that are no longer manufactured, he said. The Air Force also is providing a guided tailkit assembly. Together, the changes will extend the life of the bomb “at least 20 years” beyond the delivery of the first modified unit, said Klotz.