US Begins Upgrading Its Nuclear Bomb Arsenal

Tyler Durden's picture

The last time we discussed America's B61 nuclear bombs, was in the aftermath of Erdogan's staged coup, after Turkey shut the power and suspended all operations at the local Incirlik NATO airbase, where over 50 of the same nuclear bombs are stored. Now it appears that particular nuclear bomb is about to get a long overdue facelift. According to a statement by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Obama administration has given the go-ahead for work on upgrading the B61 airborne nuclear bomb, as the Pentagon is eager to embark on a multi-billion-dollar scheme to improve the US nuclear arsenal.

The decision by the NNSA authorized the program to enter a post-engineering phase, which comes after four years of work to, in technical terms, "preserve a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent." As a result, the first upgraded bombs are set to roll out by 2020. The B61 has been the principal US airborne nuclear bomb since 1968, when the first version was commissioned. With some of the modifications being canceled over the years and others withdrawn from use, only models 3,4,7,11 and 12 are currently in active service.

In the NNSA statement, Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz (Ret.) said that “Reaching this next phase of the B61-12 LEP is a major achievement for NNSA and the exceptionally talented scientists and engineers whose work underpins this vital national security mission."

“Currently, the B61 contains the oldest components in the US arsenal. This LEP (life extension program) will add at least an additional 20 years to the life of the system,” he added.

“These life extension programs directly support President Obama’s directive to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent, while reducing the size of the stockpile,” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz mentioned in the press release. 

“Once completed, the B61-12 LEP will allow for the retirement of the B83-1—the last megaton-class weapon in America’s nuclear arsenal—while supporting the nation’s continued commitment to our national security and that of our allies and partners,” Moniz added cited by RT.

While it is not exactly clear why the administration of a Nobel Peace Prize winning president would embark on a plan to modernize US nuclear weapons is unclear, but it is clear that it will cost a lot of taxpayer money: the project is expected to cost around $355 billion by 2023. However, critics say that this figure could rise to over $1 trillion in the future. 

Russia has been less than enthused by the US intention to modernize its nuclear arsenal.  “The experts need to give their opinion about this,” said Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary.   Senator Viktor Ozerov told RIA that Russia’s nuclear scientists would be assessing the US plans and would take steps to tackle the proposed threat if it is deemed necessary. 

"No doubt, our nuclear weapons specialists will carefully study the level of threat and will take measures to minimize it, if needed," Ozerov said.  No doubt, also, that Russia may itself doing the very same shortly after the US in what would mark the start of the second nuclear arms race in every possible way.

Rob van Riet, the coordinator for disarmament program at the World Future Council foundation, told Sputnik that the decision is harmful to nuclear security and could lead to the weapons being used by accident, while it also “sends the wrong signal."

"The decision to extend the life span of [or] modernize the system is an unnecessary one that comes at a sizeable price tag and does the opposite of advancing nuclear security and disarmament. These weapons are a remnant of the Cold War," van Riet said. 

Precisely: which is why many find the decision by Obama to greenlight this project confusing at best. 

That's not all.

The decision to prolong the life of the B61-12 also comes as the US Air Force announced that it is planning to move ahead with proposals to replace its current intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear cruise missile with new programs. The Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) will replace the Minutemen III ICBM, the Long Range Standoff (LRSO) weapons and the AGM-86B Air Launched Cruise Missile. Its backers say that the program is vital in helping to maintain the US nuclear deterrent.

And the best news, if only for America's military-industrial complex: "This request for proposals is the next step to ensuring the nation's ICBM leg of the nuclear triad remains safe, secure and effective," Major General Scott Jansson, Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems, said in a statement cited by Defense News.

This means that one or more corporations are about to make billions in profits just to make sure that the US preserves its pre-emptive and first strike capabilities, and can effectively and clinically destroy the world. It also means that taxes are likely about to go up again.

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cossack55's picture

Adding 20 years of life to a system created to end life.  Stanley Kubrik, where are you?

UncleSparky's picture

Fully tested by Slim Pickens?

AVmaster's picture

If attacked by Russia and/or China with nuclear weapons, obama will:

> Push "the button" to retaliate

> Laugh as he boards Air Force One for "orgy island"

philipat's picture

More money for the MIC. Does it really matter? I'm sure that the Millions these weapons would kill if used won't be worrying whether it was the latest generaation device that killed them?

HowdyDoody's picture

Which international treaty does this breach?

A Nanny Moose's picture

Laws are for little people.

.gov = paying big bucks for shit that blows up.

nuubee's picture

This is the biggest stain on Obama's legacy. The fact that the U.S. still has to keep these things around, and worse, upgrade them is a testament to his absolutely abhorrent foreign policy.

hoos bin pharteen's picture

Horrible as they are, nuclear weapons are used every day.  

The Saint's picture
The Saint (not verified) hoos bin pharteen Aug 3, 2016 10:26 AM

The Russians are upset that the U.S. is upgrading some nuclear weapons?  All while Russia is working on a multi-warhead hypersonic first strike indefensible nuclear warhead.  We had better start upgrading our strategic defense weapons.


JohninMK's picture

Expect to see Major General Scott Jansson in a high paying role in the MIC in a few years time.

de3de8's picture

A trillion dollar payday for the MIC is all you have to know

J Jason Djfmam's picture

General Buck Turgidson: Mr. President, we must not allow... a mineshaft gap.

sinbad2's picture

I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

Ignatius's picture

Which is the bigger threat to humanity?

---> Nuclear Winter

---> Global Warming


a Smudge by any other name's picture

ISIS terrorists sneaking emotional triggers into safe spaces?

HedgeJunkie's picture

---> The Three War Criminal Stooges, Obama, Clinton, McCain

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

There are more than just three.

HedgeJunkie's picture

Of course there are, I'm just naming off the top three.

Jack's Raging Bile Duct's picture

I would nominate Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush for top three living criminals.

sinbad2's picture

Actually a nuclear war would be very effective at reducing CO2 levels.

If you killed a couple of billion people in a nuclear war, CO2 emissions would fall dramatically.

Nuclear winter is another one of those cold war fabrications.

reader2010's picture

That's particularly true for killing 1 billion Chinese.

DownWithYogaPants's picture

Glo-bull warming is a fabrication too.

Ever see how much CO2 is released by a volcano?

DownWithYogaPants's picture

Nuclear winter is clearly a fabrication.

Surely a nuclear war would be mightily inconvenient for humans.  But otherwise?  No effect for the most part in the big scheme.

See the Chernobyl exclusion zone and the wildlife that has returned there.  

someup-somedown's picture

Is there any actual evidence that either threat exists?

We see pictures of missiles that are supposedly "nuclear" but what evidence do we have that there is such a weapon (and please don't cite hiroshima or Nagasaki)

We see pictures of ice-caps melting and graphs in upward/downward movements supposedly "proving" Global warming, climate change, anthopodic whatever...

I've seen pictures from the moon

I've seen planes fly into some buildings.

I've seen "massacres" that didn't happen but had passports or ID's dropped

Believe it - it's all on the news....

a Smudge by any other name's picture

Here we go old line GOP, warhawks, MIC, neocons from every dark corner, here's how the democrats say "continuity of government". Hillary isn't even elected yet but we're gearing up for CHRISTMAS FOR WEAPONS CONTRACTORS! Woo-hoo!

Naturally it's assumed that money is no object. The Fed as primary financier seems unconcerned with our ability to repay loans.

I Write Code's picture

The upgrades include unlimited music streaming and fingerprint recognition.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

Touch tone interface.

"Hi I'm a B61-12 LEP tactical nuke. If you know the name or location of the population you want nuked please press 1 now. Para Espanol oprima numero dos. Or just enter the threat code you got in your briefing."

(beep beep beep)

"You picked Luxembourg! To nuke Luxembourg now press 1 or just remain on the line and I'll report back to you shortly."

HowdyDoody's picture

Prior art - Dark Star - Let There Be Light

Bomb 20 gets stuck in the bomb bay. The crew try to use phenomenology to stop the bomb exploding (which is its sole reason for existing)


a Smudge by any other name's picture

Only one of my most favoritest movies EVER!


cart00ner's picture

Fix those shitty F-35's you sold us while ur at it.

sinbad2's picture

The F35 dud is Putins fault.

HowdyDoody's picture

Several have been given away to Israel. Is this good or bad? Maybe the only time the US has given them the finger?

HedgeJunkie's picture

Ya know, once they take a sizable portion of the active 'nuclear deterrents' off-line for rehab then it might be the best time to strike.

But please keep it focused on that shithole on the Potomic and the various hidey-holes that we know that you know all about.

sinbad2's picture

Nuclear bombs have a  short shelf life, the radioactivity eats away the containment.

So these bombs are either replaced every couple of years, or the Uranium, Plutonium is stored outside the bomb, and they are assembled prior to being used.

I would have thought that upgrades would have been a continuous process?

Buster Cherry's picture

Where do you get your information?

TuPhat's picture

Sinbad doesn't understand the difference between upgrades and regular maintenance.  He also doesn't know it's the Tritium that has a short shelf life.

J Jason Djfmam's picture

Or we need to replace the bombs we had in

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

Emo Philips:

"Countries are making nuclear weapons like there is no tomorrow."

Joe A's picture

Perhaps you might wanna start with the ones that are on that base in Turkey. Except after you brought them home to upgrade, don't send them back.

reader2010's picture

Let's Use them to bring down Three Gorges Dam so that half of China can join the South China Sea, shall we?

RadioFlyer's picture
RadioFlyer (not verified) Aug 3, 2016 4:50 AM

Someone got their contract and bonus.

Able Ape's picture

Why, if I'm going to be vaporized, I want it to be with the latest and greatest, not with my grandfather's nuclear bomb!...Being fasionably vaporized is SO chic!  And why not also upgrade our nuclear delivery computer system to the Commodore 64?

J Jason Djfmam's picture

Are these going to be built using "clean" nuclear explosives?