05/02/2014 - 15:35

The B61 family of nuclear bombs

Hans M. Kristensen

Kristensen is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC. His work focuses on researching and writing about the status of...

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Robert S. Norris

Norris is a senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists in Washington, DC. A former senior research...

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The Obama administration has approved an upgrade to the B61 nuclear bomb that will, through use of a new tail kit assembly, become a guided standoff nuclear bomb. If the upgrade—the 12th modification of the original B61 design—is pursued as planned, the US Air Force will obtain the low-yield, precision-guided nuclear weapon it first sought in the 1990s, despite concerns that it could increase the likelihood of use. The weapon’s overall price tag is expected to exceed $10 billion, with each B61-12 estimated to cost more than the value of its weight in gold.