The Pentagon announced this week that it is developing a new nuclear “gravity bomb” that is 24 times more powerful than the atomic bomb detonated in Hiroshima.
As the name suggests, the B61-13 is the 13th variant of the B61 family of “gravity bombs” that fall on their target and are not controlled.
The new bomb will have the same yield as its predecessor, the Cold War-era B61-7, estimated at 360,000 tons, and deliver a blast radius of about 190,000 feet, the length of two Manhattans.
The project essentially involves installing the same B61-7 warhead in a new casing.
Unlike the older model, the new bomb will have modern safety and control features as well as an improved tail to ensure it falls straight and hits the target.
The uranium-based atomic bomb called “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, where 320,000 people were alive when it was dropped in 1945. Its destructive power was 360 kilotons – 24 times more powerful than the bomb of World War II
What power does B61-13 have compared to the Hiroshima warhead?
The uranium-based atomic bomb called Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, home to 320,000 people when it was dropped in 1945.
The bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” weighed 9,700 pounds and was 28 inches in diameter.
It also contained 141 pounds of uranium – while the new B61-13 is made entirely of plutonium.
The impact triggered an explosion with a destructive force equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT.
The explosion produced a supersonic shock wave, followed by extreme winds that remained above hurricane strength more than a mile from ground zero.
A secondary and equally devastating reverse wind followed, leveling homes and buildings several miles away and causing severe damage.
The uranium-based atomic bomb called “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, which was home to 320,000 people when it was dropped in 1945. Pictured is a replica of the post-war bomb
The explosion produced a supersonic shock wave, followed by extreme winds that remained above hurricane strength more than a mile from ground zero
The intense heat of the Hiroshima bomb reached over 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit and burned flesh and other flammable materials more than a mile away.
Flash burns from the primary heat wave caused most of the deaths in Hiroshima.
Now the Department of Defense (DoD) has proposed an even more powerful nuclear bomb with a destructive power of 360 kilotons.
The detonation would create a mass fire with a radius of more than four miles Hurricane force winds over 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
Experts also expect the fire to burn for more than six hours and create a deadly environment across more than 65 square miles – an area about 10 to 15 times larger than the area burned in Hiroshima, according to Waging Peace , a human rights organization.
‘This is significantly larger [than Hiroshima]Wilson said.
“If you fire it at New York City, it will blow up Jersey City and all of Manhattan, causing a million deaths and two million more victims.”
The B61-13 is equipped with a tail kit that increases the bomb’s accuracy and allows it to be used against targets that today require higher yield bombs.
Why is B61-13 produced?
The B61-7 nuclear gravity bomb was the main warhead in the US arsenal after the end of the Cold War.
The bomb weighs over 1,000 pounds and has a destructive force of 360 kilotons.
The warhead was manufactured in the 1980s to early 1990s before being phased out under the George W. Bush administration.
While some B-617s are still part of the U.S. nuclear bomb inventory, these weapons have a shelf life of just 12 years.
The B61-7 nuclear gravity bomb was the main warhead in the US arsenal after the end of the Cold War. The bomb weighs over 1,000 pounds and has a destructive force of 360 kilotons
The radioactive elements decay and affect effectiveness and performance.
The Obama administration approved development of the B61-12, with the first unit being produced in November 2021.
“The B61-12 program was controversial because of its high price. In 2010, the cost was estimated at $4 billion, but the National Nuclear Security Administration’s estimate increased to $8 billion in 2012, and the Defense Department put the cost at $10 billion in 2013, according to a report in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, $4 billion.
“The new steering tail will cost an additional $1.8 billion, and integration into five different aircraft will cost hundreds of millions more.”
“The B61-12 program is likely the most expensive nuclear bomb program in U.S. history.”
The report notes that each B61-12 costs more to produce than if it were made of solid gold.
However, the redesigned bomb features a guided tail instead of a parachute, which officials say provides limited standoff capability, making it safer to deliver.
And the atomic bomb has both air and ground explosion capabilities.
The B61-12 is also less powerful than the new nuclear weapon – its yield can be as low as 0.3 tons.
“While the B61-12 [is] It is capable of endangering the same targets as the current gravity bombs in the US stockpile [does] “i.e. with lower yield and therefore less collateral damage, including radioactive fallout,” says the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The Obama administration approved development of the B61-12, with the first unit being produced in November 2021
According to defense officials, the B61-13 will use the warhead of the B61-7, but like the B61-12, will be modified with new safety and usage control features as well as a guided tail to increase the bomb’s accuracy compared to the B61-12. 7.
What have officials revealed about B61-13?
The Department of Defense on October 27 announced plans for the super atomic bomb that are being announced and are pending approval and authorization by Congress.
“The B61-13 will strengthen the deterrence of adversaries and the security of allies and partners by providing the President with additional options against certain tougher and larger-scale military targets,” said a fact sheet accompanying the announcement of the B61-13 has been published.
The fact sheet also notes that development of the B61-13 “is subject to congressional approval and appropriation.”
The B61-13 will have two main assemblies: the bomb assembly and the tail assembly.
The tail set is equipped with four maneuverable fins and a tail suction.
“The B61-13 would leverage the current, established production capabilities supporting the B61-12 and incorporate the B61-12’s advanced safety and accuracy features,” the Defense Department said in the October announcement.
“The B61-13 would be deployable with modern aircraft and would strengthen the deterrence of adversaries and the security of allies and partners by providing the President with additional options against certain more difficult and large-scale military targets.”
“It would replace some of the B61-7s in the current nuclear inventory and have a similar yield to the B61-7, which is higher than that of the B61-12.”
However, officials noted in the announcement that no specific threats prompted the development of B61-13.
Experts Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Federation of American Scientists claimed that the B61-13 was a way to replace the massive B83-1 (1,200 kiloton) bomb with a larger weapon than the B61-12.
Geoffrey Wilson, director of the Center for Defense Information, told DailyMail.com: “[B61-13] is a Washington warhead. A political weapon.
Some people in Congress are upset that Biden wants to get rid of the 83, and the [new bomb] seems to be a compromise.
“Whether or not there is any use or benefit, that’s a real question that hasn’t been answered yet.”