The US have successfully test launched a newly upgraded nuclear bomb in the Nevada desert, in an attempt to extend the life of existing nukes.
The B61-12 is a new design of nuclear gravity bomb, which sounds pretty terrifying.
Don’t worry though, although it sounds like the type of thing a super villain would detonate, a gravity bomb is just an unguided bomb which you drop on a target.
The test launch didn’t have any nuclear material on board either, instead it had “representative non-nuclear components” but no dangerous highly enriched uranium or plutonium.
The US tested the bomb as part of their “continued commitment to security”, apparently. The launch was completed by the US Air Force and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada, on October 20, 2015.
According to NNSA Deputy Administrator, Madelyn Creedon, the launch:
Provides additional evidence of the nation’s continued commitment to our nation’s security and that of our allies and partners.
The nukes $8 billion upgrade has been a topic of fierce debate in Washington over whether the improved bomb is actually a new weapon, and so a violation of President Obama’s promise of not to make new nuclear weapons.
However, the NNSA claim the nuclear weapon will have no more capabilities than other B61 weapons, and won’t be GPS-guided.