NBC Weapons: Viagra for Ancient Nukes




July 6, 2006: The United States is refurbishing one of its oldest warhead designs, the B61, which is a thermonuclear ("H-Bomb") weapon that is available in several versions. The ones being refurbished are those designed for penetrating the earth before going off, or the higher yielding ones (300-400 kilotons) detonated in the air. The exact number of B61s being refurbed is a secret, but is believed to be about half the current ones in service. Some 3,200 B61s were built since the design went into service in the mid-1960s, and about half of those remain available for use. The refurbed warheads will good for another two decades. The basic B61 nuclear bomb weighs 700 pounds, is 330mm in diameter and about twelve feet long. They are delivered by aircraft, usually as bombs . About 400 B61s are still stored in Europe, and these are not being refurbed. Interestingly, the W80 nuclear weapon used on some two thousand cruise missile warheads, are not being refurbished either. Without the refurb, all these older warheads will be useless in less than a decade.


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