The director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Hans Kristensen has reported that the U.S. Air Force remove B61-7 and B83-1 nuclear gravity bombs from B-52H approved weapons configuration.
“B-52 bombers are no longer authorized to carry nuclear gravity bombs. New Air Force instruction describes removal of B61-7 and B83-1 from B-52H approved weapons configuration,” Kristensen said citing a recently updated Air Force manual.
The new Air Force’s manual, titled “Safety Rules for U.S. Strategic Bomber Aircraft,” has officially confirmed that B-52H Stratofortressbomber is no longer delivers nuclear gravity bombs.
“Removal of B61-7 and B83-1 [nuclear gravity bombs] from B-52H approved weapons configuration,” the manual states bluntly in the list of major changes between it and the preceding, and now superseded, 2017 version. The document makes clear later on that the AGM-86B with the W80-1 warhead is the only remaining approved nuclear weapon for the B-52H.
According to an early report, the reason for the change appears to be that the B-52 is no longer considered survivable enough to slip through modern air-defenses and drop nuclear gravity bombs on enemy territory.
The B-52s is still equipped to carry the nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile (ALCM or AGM-86B), which can be launched from well outside the reach of air-defenses, and is scheduled to receive the new LRSO (Long Range Standoff Missile).
Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists, first reported on the probable exclusion of the B-52H’s nuclear gravity bomb capability in 2017, and tweeted a screenshot of the publicly available Air Force document on Monday.
It’s official: B-52 bombers are no longer authorized to carry nuclear gravity bombs. New Air Force instruction describes “removal of B61-7 and B83-1 from B-52H approved weapons configuration.” https://t.co/gayLcHvHir
— Hans Kristensen (@nukestrat) January 13, 2020