A high altitude test was conducted with the F-15E Strike Eagle dropping the mock weapon from above 25,000 feet.
The next time a nuclear bomb is dropped from the sky, an advanced jet like the F-15E Strike Eagle might have done it. This development comes as the primary fighter jet of the United States Air Force recently dropped an inert B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb during a full-weapon system demonstration in Nevada. Let’s see how and what this test was all about.
Full-Weapon System Demo
Sandia National Laboratories and the Air Force conducted the full-weapon system demonstration in March, as they seek to verify that that the refurbished B61-12 is fully compatible with the F-15E Strike Eagle jet fighter, and in the future, other military aircraft. Done at Sandia’s Tonopah Test Range, the two final flight tests (fifth and sixth) represent years of work that included ground testing as well as computer simulations.
Sandia currently serves as the design and development lab for the non-nuclear components of the country’s nuclear stockpile. Moreover, the company also serves the technical integrator for the complete weapon, which means that it is tasked to ensure that the full-weapon system has all the needed requirements.
Real-World Mock Bombing (Video)
The fully functional weapon – already containing non-nuclear and mock nuclear components – was loaded onto two F-15E Strike Eagles at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas, for flight tests at the Tonopah Test Range. The range is around 160 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The first flight test was a lower-altitude demo with the F-15E Strike Eagle flying at nearly the speed of sound at just around 1,000 feet. Then, the fighter F-15E dropped the mock B61-12, which hit the designated area around 35 seconds after release.
Then, a higher-altitude test was conducted, with the F-15E Strike Eagle dropping the mock weapon from above 25,000 feet. The B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb struck the designated area around 55 seconds later. After the flight tests, Sandia and the Air Force were all smiles.
Also Compatible With Other Aircraft?
Aside from the F-15E Strike Eagle, the B61-12 gravity nuclear bomb would be certified for the B-2 strategic bomber, the F-16C/D fighter and F-35 fighter. It would also be certified for aircraft belonging to the military forces of U.S. allies.
The B61-12 is the latest variant of the B61 nuclear bomb, with the first refurbished weapon set to be procured in fiscal year 2022. A real-world demo helps ensure that the B61-12 is compatible with various aircraft used by the US Air Force. Bombs away, anyone?