Print
Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article
Alexander Savelyev

Doctor of Political Science, Chief research fellow, Center of International Security, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), RIAC Expert

On July 1, 2105, the Tonopah Test Range in NV became the site for the successful testing of the 12th version of the B61 nuclear bomb. The event was part of the life extension program for U.S. nuclear weapons. The modernization is supposed to extend their life by 30 years. The American nukes life extension program does not create any new security threats for Russia. However, this program may serve as a prologue to a more drastic modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

On July 1, 2105, the Tonopah Test Range in NV became the site for the successful testing of the 12th version of the B61 nuclear bomb, which was dropped from an F-15E uncharged, consequently causing no explosion. The event was part of the life extension program for U.S. nuclear weapons that also covers warheads for sea-based Tridents and ground-based Minutemen. The modernization is supposed to extend their life by 30 years, since the program provides for the replacement of mechanical components, for example, the B61 tail units.

This upgrading is intended to improve bomb capabilities, including targeting and consequently using less powerful charges for the same missions. For example, the 50-kiloton B61 bomb will replace the deployed versions, i.e. the 400-kiloton B61-12 and 1.2-megaton B83-1. The upgraded bomb will fit practically all U.S. nuclear carriers, including the perspective LRS-B (B-3) strategic bomber.

Of note, the American nukes life extension program which was launched in 2012 does not create any new security threats for Russia.

The American nukes life extension program which was launched in 2012 does not create any new security threats for Russia.


REUTERS/Mike Segar/Pixstream
Mikhail Troitskiy:
Political Deadlock over Nuclear Disarmament


This program may serve as a prologue to a more drastic modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The United States is not building up its nuclear arsenal, but is rather cutting it by almost two thirds, i.e. from 1,385 to 400-500 bombs including those stationed at European bases. Improved safety control over these weapons is good for international security, whereas on the whole, the program offers a good example of thrift displayed toward previous major allocations for developing for producing weapons that with minor upgrades can remain effective for many decades. The B61 was commissioned almost 50 years ago and has perfectly obviated the need for the development and production of a replacement.

However, this program may serve as a prologue to a more drastic modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In this case, the several billion dollars spent on the B611-12 will be concealed by the mammoth strategic nuke program that could reportedly be presented to President Obama by his top military officials. The biggest supporter of this initiative is Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work who wants to increase nuclear force spending from 3-4 to 7 percent of the military budget. Should this happen, the annual allocations for the U.S. strategic arm may reach USD 35 billion in 2016 fiscal year prices, which means over USD 350 billion in a ten years and about USD 1 trillion in 30 years.

Washington would like to present these plans as a response provoked by Russian violations of international relations, for example the INF Treaty, as well as by Russia’s program for modernizing its nuclear arsenal implemented over the several past years. This situation requires more intensive Russian-American communication in the security sector to prevent a new spiral in the nuclear race on both sides.

Rate this article
(no votes)
 (0 votes)
Share this article

Poll conducted

  1. In your opinion, what are the US long-term goals for Russia?
    U.S. wants to establish partnership relations with Russia on condition that it meets the U.S. requirements  
     33 (31%)
    U.S. wants to deter Russia’s military and political activity  
     30 (28%)
    U.S. wants to dissolve Russia  
     24 (22%)
    U.S. wants to establish alliance relations with Russia under the US conditions to rival China  
     21 (19%)
 
For business
For researchers
For students