NEWS | July 8, 2022

B-2 executes new nuclear tactic in B61-12 JTA capstone test

By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin 53rd Wing

A B-2A Spirit stealth bomber released a B61-12 Joint Test Assembly utilizing a new capability known as Radar Aided Targeting System during a capstone test at the Tonopah Test Range, June 14, 2022.  
 
Tested only on the B-2, RATS improves weapon guidance accuracy in a Global Positioning System-degraded environment.
 
“We flew multiple sorties testing the new RATS capability over the last nine months and collected test points on its performance,” said Capt. David Durham, 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron B-2 weapons flight commander.  “Using RATS for the JTA release demonstrated what the new capability brings to the warfighter. This test was also the first release of the production unit of the B61-12 JTA.”
 
A software tool designed in-house by the 72d TES was also flight tested. Known as the RATS Application Tool, it provides pilots an early indicator of the RATS’ functionality, verifying that the system is operating correctly prior to weapon release.  
 
"This tool has opened the door for rapid and innovative software development in support of the B-2,” said Master Sergeant Matthew Gibson, 72d TES lead analysis software developer. “Due to the success of this product, we’ve received requests to build tools for other in-flight capabilities from the 509th Bomb Wing and 325th Weapons Squadron.”  
 
Future B61-12 JTA releases will be conducted during annual Weapon System Evaluation Program flight tests as part of Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration and Department of Defense surveillance tests.
 
“Modernization is at the forefront of our minds as we plan and execute each of these tests,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Young, 72d TES commander. “The development of this tactic and the creation of the innovative software tool speak to the dedication and ingenuity of this team. They are focused on equipping the warfighter for today’s fight.”
 
The test event was led by a collaborative effort between the 72d TES, the 509th BW, Air Force Global Strike Command, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Boeing Company, and Sandia National Labs.


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 For more information, contact 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or lindsey.heflin.1@us.af.mil.
 
The 53rd Wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance. By testing new operational capabilities and evaluating fielded capabilities, the 53rd Wing is bringing the future faster while answering the warfighter’s demands for integrated, multi-domain capabilities.