US to Turn Old Bombs Into All-Purpose Weapons

In the future, Washington plans to have three types of nuclear warheads for sea- and land-based long-range missiles. Two further types will remain in service on aircraft: One bomb, the B-61-12, and one warhead yet to be chosen for future air-launched cruise missiles, which is set to be based on a derivative of the B-61.

From the viewpoint of the NNSA, the B-61 program cannot be dumped, because it would have a domino effect on subsequent projects complementing the 3-plus-2 strategy. Even the prospect of the planned new disarmament agreement with Russia, in which non-strategic nuclear weapons are set to be included for the first time, is not a valid reason from their perspective. "Make no mistake," said assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs Madelyn Creedon, "even if the NATO alliance struck an agreement with Russia to mutually reduce tactical nuclear weapons, we would still need to complete the B-61-12 LEP (life extension program) on the current timeline."

The other four warhead types are also set to be thoroughly modernized. Whether additional new weapons would be developed in doing so is still open. In a plan describing the NNSA's future programs that was recently put before Congress, it said: "NNSA will not develop new nuclear warheads or provide new military capability, except to improve safety, security and reliability."

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