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    F-35A Completes Key Milestone with release of B61-12 Joint Test Assemblies (JTAs)

    F-35A completes milestone 5th Gen fighter test with refurbished B61-12 nuclear gravity bombs

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Zachary Rufus | An F-35A Lighting II from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, carrying a B61-12 Joint Test...... read more read more



    Story by F-35 Joint Program Office Public Affairs 

    F-35 Joint Program Office

    The F-35A Lightning II is one step closer to becoming the next Air Force aircraft, and first 5th Generation platform, to achieve compatibility with the refurbished B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb, the F-35 Joint Program Office announced on October 04.

    Taking off from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, two F-35As recently executed a Full Weapon System Demonstration, considered the ‘graduation’ flight test exercise for achieving nuclear certification from an air-delivered platform. This event was the culmination of years of planning and lead-up flight test activities, and involved numerous organizations across the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DOE).

    Pilots from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, part of the Air Force’s 53rd Test and Evaluation Group, conducted two separate drops of high-fidelity, non-nuclear mock B61-12s at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range, located 160 miles from Nellis. The jets released the inert weapons at varying altitudes and airspeeds, clearing the desired flight envelope in which the F-35A plans to operate. The flights marked the last of 10 guided releases of B61-12 test assets on F-35A.

    While the F-35A is not yet fully certified to conduct real world nuclear operations, the successful completion of Full Weapon System Demonstration concludes on-aircraft testing for F-35A’s initial nuclear certification effort. Officials from DoD and DOE can now begin technical analysis of the test data, with the goal of ensuring that all test requirements were met, and that the B61-12 performs reliably and safely on F-35A in all phases of operation.

    B61-12 capability on F-35A also marks another significant achievement for the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin, as it becomes the first weapon to complete development and integration during F-35’s modernization phase. The F-35A will eventually play a critical role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) nuclear deterrence mission. The completion of this demonstration event keeps the F-35A on track to meet specific need dates for deploying the capability overseas.

    The B61 entered service five decades ago and has undergone a life extension program to consolidate and replace four legacy bomb variants into the B61-12. The 12-foot, 825-pound bomb is designed to be delivered from the air in either ballistic or guided-gravity drop modes using a Boeing-built tailkit.

    In addition to the F-35A, the B61-12 bomb will also be certified to fly on the F-15E, B-2, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, PA-200, and B-21.

    For more information on this test, contact Air Combat Command Public Affairs at (757)-764-5007 or at



    Date Taken: 10.04.2021
    Date Posted: 10.04.2021 16:33
    Story ID: 406683

    Web Views: 3,726
    Downloads: 2