Nuclear Bomb. One of the most feared and controversial terms in twentieth and twenty-first-century politics. These two words conjure up images of fear-inducing propaganda, debating politicians, and tension-filled stand-offs between nations building nuclear stockpiles yet all too aware of the potential devastation leveled by these terrible weapons.
Watch with gripping anticipation as the United States Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center tests an inert B-61 nuclear warhead at the Nevada Test and Training Range on January 7, 2015. Fortunately, the bomb featured in this video is an inert replica, used for training purposes. It mimics precisely the size, shape and arming mechanisms of its live counterpart but contains only inert material. Even so, watching this foreboding operation trialed is enough to send chills down your spine. In this video, you can see a B61 loaded onto an F-15E Strike Eagle through candid footage from under the plane, and witness the F-15’s takeoff into the fiery Nevada sunrise. As the sky turns from orange to blue, the F-15, racing through the skies, releases the B-61.
The B61-12 nuclear bomb is the most accurate and versatile nuclear weapon in the United States’ arsenal. It has a circular error probability of just 30 meters, which, when compared to other nuclear bombs in the United States arsenal with error ranges of 170+ meters, is dead-on target. While the B-61 has a relatively low yield of a mere 50 kilotons, its increased accuracy makes it the most effective bomb for decimating specific targets with less collateral destruction. This makes the B-61 the most usable nuclear bomb in the US arsenal and therefore one of the most terrifying. Aside from its massively destructive blast energy, it retains its thermonuclear effects, emitting nuclear radiation from the moment of detonation, and radioactive fallout up to years later.
As the inert B61 disappears through the cloud layer, we are left to ponder the enormity of what would unfold, were this a live nuclear bomb.