Sandia National Laboratories, in cooperation with the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the U.S. Air Force, completed a round of flight tests as part of the integration of the new B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb onto the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.
The press release from Sandia said that the supersonic test had taken place over the Tonopah Test Rang.
Related Article: Watch: F-15E Strike Eagles Dropping A B61 Nuclear Bomb
Sandia has also released first-of-its-kind video footage of one of these test sorties, which involved the first-ever release of an inert version of this weapon from an internal bomb bay on a plane flying faster than the speed of sound and that also provides an unprecedented look at the bomb’s rocket spin stabilization system.
The B61-12 is the latest in a long line of nuclear gravity bombs, designed to knock out targets on the ground and below with a blast in the hundreds—or thousands—of tons of TNT. See the video here:
In the video, an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter opens its starboard internal weapons bay, revealing the B61-12 bomb.
The aircraft appears to be flying a laydown profile, which is a straight and level overflight of the target with guided release.
Laydown is the most accurate of the nuclear gravity bomb drop procedures and is also used during bad weather.
The 12-foot, 825-pound bomb falls free from the bay, then noses down toward its target.
Two rocket boosters fire, inducing a spin and stabilizing the bomb in flight. Spinning at a high rate, the bomb slams into the target below, presumably into a bullseye.