Translate page with Google

Story Publication logo November 6, 2015

Defenders and Critics Assess Modernization of the B-61 Nuclear Bomb

Image by Daniel Sagalyn.

The Pentagon plans to replace the current nuclear arsenal, including 12 new nuclear armed submarines...

author #1 image author #2 image
Multiple Authors
Media file: nuke9-1024x680.jpg
Prototype of a B61-12 on an F-15E aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Image by Dan Sagalyn. United States, 2015.

Jay Coghlan from Nuclear Watchdog Mexico tells PBS NewsHour that the U.S. is building the world's first nuclear smart bomb. The Air Force says they aren't making a new weapon, but Coghlan disagrees. "By the time you replace virtually every other component, what is it really? It's a new weapon."

"The B61 is 1960's technology," explains Major General Garrett Harencak of the U.S. Air Force. He says the weapon needs an updated design to replace old parts, improve safety, and"bring it into 2015."

Hans Kristensen from the Federation of American Scientists says that the U.S. isn't building a new bomb, but taking an existing warhead and "life-extending it." But the result, he adds, is an enhanced weapon with greater precision that might encourage its future use. Should taxpayer dollars be used for this? For Kristensen the answer is no.

What are the differences between the existing B61 bomb and the new version? Two top weapons officials cite a new tail-kit that allows more precise targeting and other enhancements but tey insist that this does not constitute a "new" weapon overall.


Nuclear Threats


Nuclear Threats

Nuclear Threats
pink halftone illustration of a hand underneath a floating feather


Peace Initiatives

Peace Initiatives

Support our work

Your support ensures great journalism and education on underreported and systemic global issues