The US has completed the “first production unit” of its modernized B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb, set to replace the current aging models of the iconic B61, which has remained in service for more than 50 years.

The completion of the upgraded variable-yield nuclear bomb was announced by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on Thursday. The “first production unit” (FPU) was put together on November 23, paving the way for mass-production of the modernized bomb, expected to begin in May 2022.

“With this program, we’re delivering a system to the Department of Defense that improves accuracy and reduces yield with no change in military characteristics, while also improving safety, security and reliability,” Department of Energy Under Secretary and NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby stated.

The modernization effectively turns the free-fall bomb into an adjustable munition, as the new B61-12s come with a guided tail kit supplied by Boeing. The kit gives the bomb some capability to maneuver mid-air instead of simply falling to the ground. (RT)