B61 Upgrades: A Dangerous and Pointless Extravagance
The U.S. is poised to spend $11.6 billion to upgrade a handful of nuclear bombs - with each bomb costing more than twice its weight in gold. These bombs- known as the B61- were originally deployed in Europe to slow a hypothetical massive Soviet land invasion of Western Europe. But the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union exists no more. George H.W. Bush removed all but 200 of the B61s from the European theater. Now the Obama administration wants to upgrade those remaining, making them more accurate and "useable". These costly bomb upgrades will only rack up more debt while adding no benefit to our security.
Why are the bombs still around? How much gold are we talking about? What else could the U.S. buy with the money? Ploughshares has prepared a colorful multi-paneled infographic on the folly of the Administration's funding plans for the
B61 bomb: "Meet the Budget Busting B61 Nuclear Bomb".
B61-12 Life Extension Program: Radar Drop Tests Completed Successfully (NNSA press release)
These tests were conducted from helicopter. NNSA has announced that in FY 2014 these components will be integrated with the Air Force's Tail Kit Assembly for 'integration testing' with Air Force nuclear certified aircraft (incl. B-2 and F35 stealth bombers); creating new military capabilities for an existing nuclear weapon, contrary to official US policy declared at the 2010 Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference and elsewhere.
Controversy After Another Test of the B61-12 Nuclear Smart Bomb
The editor-in-chief of Russia’s National Defense magazine, Igor Korotchenko, warned that the second test of the B61-12 could indicate that the US is speeding up its rearmament program while “both Washington and Brussels are considering the scenario of a limited nuclear war in Europe.” He added that NATO forces have already conducted drills in the Baltic Sea, including mock nuclear strikes on Russia. “During regular exercises, including those in the Baltic Sea, the air forces of NATO countries have repeatedly carried out combat training tasks involving tactical nuclear strikes on targets located in the northwest of our country,” Korotchenko told RIA Novosti (ref).
NNSA press release on the B61-12 tests: (view/download PDF)
There are an estimated 180 B61 nuclear bombs stored at NATO bases in Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey.
The B61-12 in Europe: A German View
“American nuclear bombs are still stationed in Europe. In Germany alone, up to 20 B-61 weapons are stored on a German airbase in the village of *****.
The German government has said on numerous occasions it would like to see those weapons removed, but there is no great chance of that happening anytime soon. Instead, the weapons are expected to be upgraded with enhanced military capabilities.”
(Spiegel Online, “Nuclear Arsenal: US To Turn Old Bombs Into All-Purpose Weapons”, Nov 6, 2013)