An F-35 stealth fighter dropped an inert version of the B61-12 nuclear bomb in a test held this summer at a test range in the US. It was the first time for such a bomb to be dropped from a plane flying faster than the speed of sound.
The test was carried out jointly by the Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories as well as the American Air Force above the Tonopah Test Range, and the information about the test was just published in a joint statement by the three partners that carried out the test. The Drive website reports that the Tonopah range is considered a secret and classified facility that has been used for testing of nuclear weapons for years.
In the test, an F-35 dropped the bomb containing non-nuclear components that simulated a nuclear payload. The bomb was released at a height of 10,500 feet and hit the target on the ground 42 seconds later. The test was very significant because F-35 stealth fighters carry their munitions within the structure of the plane in order to avoid affecting their stealth qualities, and the release of the munitions is more complex.
In addition to the F-35, this type of nuclear bomb will also be able to be dropped by B-2 Spirit and B-21 Raider bombers. The B61-12 is still in the stage of development at the two laboratories, and will be delivered to the Air Force in 2022.