WASHINGTON, DC – The final refurbished B61 strategic nuclear bomb has entered into the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, completing an eight-year effort, according to a senior National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) official. This program extended beyond their original intended life both the B61 mod 7 and mod 11 strategic bombs, and was completed almost one year early.
"This is the culmination of an ambitious continuing effort which helped to ensure that the nation's aging nuclear weapons stockpile continues to be reliable," said Robert Smolen, NNSA's deputy administrator for defense programs. "Nuclear scientists, engineers, and technicians across NNSA's national security enterprise contributed to this effort."
Most nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile were produced anywhere from 30 to 40 years ago, and no new nuclear weapons have been produced since the end of the Cold War. Used by the Air Force for its B-52H and B-2A bombers, the B61 mod 7 and mod 11 are modifications of the B61 mod 1, which first entered the stockpile in 1969.
NNSA must use science-based research and development to extend the lifetime of the current weapons in the stockpile. NNSA is able to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent without producing new weapons.
A ban on nuclear testing was put into place by President George H.W. Bush in 1992, and NNSA has been able to continue meeting the challenge of certifying nuclear weapons without testing, including with the B61.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
Media contact(s): NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371