Air Force Moves Forward on Nuclear Bomb Modification

The Air Force awarded Boeing a $179 million contract to design a new tail-kit assembly for the B61 free-fall nuclear bomb as part of the B61 Mod 12 Life Extension Program. The Air Force is pursuing the LEP to improve the decades-old bomb’s overall safety, security, and use control, and to ensure its functionality on the F-35 strike fighter as part of the US extended nuclear deterrent. “We will apply our proven experience in tail kit production to this platform to effectively upgrade a vital deterrent capability,” said Debbie Rub, Boeing’s general manager for missiles and unmanned airborne systems, in the company’s Nov. 27 release. The contract covers the three-year design, development, and qualification phase for the new tail kit. The company said its design would replace obsolete parts and improve the bomb’s reliability. The B-2 stealth bomber also carries the B61. (See also Pentagon’s list of major contracts for Nov. 27, Timeline for Nuclear Warhead Life Extensions, and No Wavering.)