DOD IG to evaluate aircraft certification for B61-12 nuclear bomb

By Shelley K. Mesch / July 20, 2022 at 10:34 AM

The Defense Department inspector general will begin this month evaluating the certification of three aircraft to carry the B61-12 nuclear bomb, the office announced Monday.

The IG will determine to what extent the Air Force complied with the Energy Department, DOD and Air Force requirements when certifying the F-15, F-35 and B-2 aircraft to carry the bomb, according to the memo.

The office will review documentation and interview personnel from several offices, including:

  • Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment
  • Air Force Global Strike Command
  • Air Combat Command
  • Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center
  • Air Force Safety Center

Military Service program management offices will also be contacted, and the IG could add other offices to its inquiry.

The first production unit of the B61-12 bomb was delivered late last year, the Los Alamos National Laboratory said, nearly two years behind schedule.

The program, which is intended to refurbish and consolidate three variants tied to the B-61 low-yield gravity bomb, faced technical problems with its non-nuclear electrical components.

The issues pushed back the FPU delivery date from March 2020 and could cost $850 million between the B61-12 program and the Navy’s W88 Alt 370 effort, Charles Verdon, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s deputy administrator for defense programs, told lawmakers in a September 2019 hearing.

The B61 bomb is the oldest weapon in the military’s nuclear stockpile, logging about 50 years of service. The life-extension program, which has been in the works for about 10 years, is expected to add another 20 years to the weapon, according to the Los Alamos National Laboratory.