The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has announced plans to develop a new nuclear gravity bomb, the B61-13, pending Congressional approval and funding. The decision follows an extensive review period and aims to address the evolving global security landscape. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, John Plumb, stated that the new weapon is a response to “growing threats from potential adversaries” and will help the U.S. “credibly deter and, if necessary, respond to strategic attacks.”
The B61-13 is designed to replace some of the existing B61-7s in the U.S. nuclear stockpile, maintaining a similar yield of 360 kilotons. According to the Federation of American Scientists, a detonation of such a weapon could result in significant radioactive fallout, potentially affecting vast geographic areas. The new bomb is also designed to be deliverable by modern aircraft, enhancing U.S. deterrence capabilities.
Despite the new development, the overall number of U.S. nuclear weapons will remain constant. The production of B61-12 warheads will be reduced to align with the B61-13s. The DoD emphasized that the new weapon will provide additional options for “addressing larger and more challenging military targets.” The announcement comes amid reports that China has increased its nuclear warhead count to at least 500, although it remains significantly smaller than the arsenals of Russia and the United States.
Primary Sources: UPI, Department of Defense