US to build new nuclear gravity bomb

US to build new nuclear gravity bomb
The new bomb will have a yield of about 360 kilotons
The new bomb will have a yield of about 360 kilotons
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The new bomb will have a yield of about 360 kilotons
The new bomb will have a yield of about 360 kilotons

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced that the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will build a new high-yield nuclear gravity bomb called the B61-13 once given Congressional approval and funding.

The United States has the world's second largest nuclear weapon inventory with 3,708 commissioned warheads. That's a small fraction of what it was at the height of the Cold War and only a few hundred of these warheads are deployed at any time, but they still form the bedrock of the West's nuclear deterrent forces along with France and Britain.

Since the 1990s, it's been easy to see these weapons as the relic of a bygone age or a pointless menace best not thought about, but the US believes the need for deterrence combined with the increasingly unstable and dangerous nature of modern international relationships makes them very relevant.

However, the US nuclear stockpile has been neglected, with many warheads clocking in at well over four decades old. Because these devices are composed of radioactive materials combined with a cocktail of exotic materials, they have a limited shelf life before they become unreliable. Also, the nature of modern military threats has changed, requiring modernization of designs.

The October 27 announcement is aimed at providing the US military with a new nuclear gravity bomb without increasing the size of the overall inventory. As the B61-13 comes into service, it will phase out some of the Cold War B61-7 bombs as well as the currently produced B61-12s.

Partly for tactical reasons and partly as a political compromise between members of Congress, the B61-13 will have a similar explosive yield to the B61-7, which is about 360 kilotons. Modern strategy favors smaller-yield warheads, but having a few high-yield bombs in the inventory allows for countering larger, hardened targets and gives the President more options in mission planning.

According to the DoD, the B61-13 will also include design features of the B61-12, including better safety and security systems and a tail-mounted guidance package for greater accuracy. Though it will not likely be used by the heavy strategic bomber fleet, which is now armed with stand-off weapons, the B61-13 will be compatible with fighter bombers like the F-35 Lightning II.

"Today's announcement is reflective of a changing security environment and growing threats from potential adversaries," said Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb. "The United States has a responsibility to continue to assess and field the capabilities we need to credibly deter and, if necessary, respond to strategic attacks, and assure our allies.

"The B61-13 represents a reasonable step to manage the challenges of a highly dynamic security environment. While it provides us with additional flexibility, production of the B61-13 will not increase the overall number of weapons in our nuclear stockpile."

Source: US DoD

While most of us find the necessity of building new nukes distasteful, the do work as a deterrent.

That sais, what id the difference between this new design and the older ones? Just the yield?

Considering the current threat environment, is this going to be a deep-penetrator? Most of Iran's nuclear facilities are deep underground, and if push comes to shove, I would rather our guys target those facilities, rather than cities. The Persian people have suffered enough under the ayatollahs, they would prefer to be friends with us, I am sure, just as we would prefer friendship with the people of that sorry nation.
@Kpar nobody says they want war yet war is a perpetual fact of human existence.
Probably a lot more ACCURATE than the older ones.
We will use these, lots of these along with everybody else's, and the few people left alive will say "Why? What madness. For what?"
I say it now.
The great thing about strategic nuclear bombs is that, if used properly, they can guarantee retaliatory strikes. But with that said, they can also ensure that less technologically advanced countries with nukes won't be able to effectively use theirs. A further advantage is that, with air superiority, such bombs may be dropped with near impunity anywhere in the world, allowing the US to achieve victory over any country that opposes them. This power dynamic is desirable when visiting capitalism and democracy on those whose interests do not align with your own.
I didn't see what the difference is of the gravity bomb vs the normal nuclear bombs. Does it use gravity, or does it disrupt gravity?