The B61-12, the latest production version of the B61 family of nuclear gravity bombs, which has been in use since the early 1960s, has recently been Certified for launch by B-2 Speed bomber. Since June 2020, it has also been certified for the F-15. The average cost of that program is $20 million per bomb, or about $20 million. $9.6 billion for 480 of them. The program is explained Rated as “gold-plated” (i.e., too expensive) by the Federation of American Scientists.
If we're talking about designing and building 480 new bombs from scratch. highly enriched uranium, The $10 billion program cost is still high, but somewhat justified.
But we are not.
Instead, we're talking about upgrading the existing B61 to a guided bomb that includes a flight profile optimized for bunker destruction.
More specifically, the B61-12 is created by overhauling existing B61-4 bombs, replacing aging non-nuclear parts such as fuses and batteries, and installing them. tail kit assembly (TKA) includes a spin rocket motor, an inertial guidance system, and four maneuvering fins. Of course, you can't just stick relatively cheap components onto the back of an existing bomb. The B61-12 is more than just a guided bomb. This is a nuclear-guided bomb optimized for destroying deeply buried facilities with minimal collateral damage. This makes its mission more complex and requires it to incorporate a higher level of fail-safe capabilities than the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits that turn dumb bombs into precision-guided weapons.
Converting the existing B61 into a fail-safe nuclear bunker buster required extensive research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E). It also includes full integration of the bomb and the platform (aircraft) that carries it. Those who designed the bomb probably had access to other guidance systems used in other missiles and bombs, such as the inertial navigation system used in the JDAM kit, which could be adapted for use on the B61-12 ( And if not, why?). And they Robust nuclear earth penetrator Design programs and other studies. In addition, they already started with practical bombs with a variable yield of 0.3 kilotons, 1.5 kilotons, 10 kilotons and 50 thousand tons. And they will be able to take advantage of the many integrations that have been made with smart weapons and our aircraft.
So upgrading existing B61s to B61-12 was a complex task, but not unlike developing and building a variable-yield guided nuclear bomb from scratch. In conclusion, all the work involved in converting the B61-12 has pretty much been done so far.
It is natural to expect that such an initiative would cost millions, perhaps hundreds of millions.but $9.6 billion to $10 billion? no way.
Although a detailed breakdown of the final cost of the B61 program is not publicly available, a look at the U.S. Air Force/Navy JDAM program that was developed gives an idea of how much it would cost to convert a conventional dumb bomb into a guided bomb. You can find out how much it will cost. Precision induction module for 500 lbs, 1000 lbs and 2000 lbs. A general-purpose unguided bomb. JDAM RDT&E It was about $1.2 billion in today's U.S. dollars.. These development costs include A-10C, AV-8B, B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, F-15E, F-16 (all blocks), F/A-18A+/C/D/ Includes integration with E. /F, and F-22A aircraft. Currently, JDAM kit prices vary depending on when purchased and quantity, but are typically around $20,000 per unit.
Even if it costs an extra billion to meet the criteria. Nuclear safety and assurance standardsThe RDT&E cost for B61-12 would then be only $2.2 billion.Even if you quadrupled the unit price of a JDAM kit with both GPS and INSIn contrast to the INS-only guidance for B61-12, that still only adds another $10 million.
Experts will no doubt be happy to explain that we don't understand all of the costs and hurdles involved in converting existing B61 unguided bombs into guided bunker busters, and that's probably true. . But considering that $1 billion is equivalent to his 9.8 million engineering man-hours, or his annual workload of his 4,600 engineers, the cost, including buried org charts, his PERT, etc. It will be very interesting to see what the breakdown actually is. In total, he needs enough people and tasks to create a huge billable workforce, amounting to nearly $9 billion. It would also be very interesting to see the bill of materials for the 100 pounds or so of components that make up a single her TKA. It should cost tens of thousands of dollars, not hundreds of thousands.
It is a sad fact that since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the return to taxpayers in defense procurement dollars has declined precipitously.and our military power is weakening Despite the defense budget Average of over $700 billion Yearly for the past 10 years.
Considering that, Department of Defense fails six consecutive audits If we can't account for $1.9 trillion in assets, it's time for more accountability. It's time to stop accepting the costs of bloated programs and weapons systems that push credulity far beyond the breaking point for those who have lost their sense of common sense. And it's time to recognize that believing in peace through strength means supporting true accountability and disruptive defense reform.
Mike Vredenburg writes about politics and defense issues, with an emphasis on defense reform. He has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in production operations management and has contributed to outlets such as The Epoch Times, National Review, San Diego Daily Transcript, San Diego Union Tribute .
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.