New Mexico

US launches qualification tests for upgraded nuke bomb

  • In this March, 2017, photo supplied by Sandia National Laboratories, an F-16C from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada releases a mock nuclear weapon for a test at Tonopah Test Range near Tonopah, Nev. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are claiming success with the first in a new series of test flights that are part of an effort to upgrade one of the nuclear weapons that has been in the U.S. arsenal for decades. (James Galli/Sandia National Laboratories via AP)

    In this March, 2017, photo supplied by Sandia National Laboratories, an F-16C from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada releases a mock nuclear weapon for a test at Tonopah Test Range near Tonopah, Nev. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are claiming success with the first in a new series of test flights that are part of an effort to upgrade one of the nuclear weapons that has been in the U.S. arsenal for decades. (James Galli/Sandia National Laboratories via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March, 2017, photo supplied by Sandia National Laboratories, an F-16C makes a pass over Nevada's Tonopah Test Range after a March test of a mock nuclear weapon as part of a life extension program for the B61-12, near Tonopah, Nev. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are claiming success with the first in a new series of test flights that are part of an effort to upgrade one of the nuclear weapons that has been in the U.S. arsenal for decades. (John Salois/Sandia National Laboratories via AP)

    In this March, 2017, photo supplied by Sandia National Laboratories, an F-16C makes a pass over Nevada's Tonopah Test Range after a March test of a mock nuclear weapon as part of a life extension program for the B61-12, near Tonopah, Nev. Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are claiming success with the first in a new series of test flights that are part of an effort to upgrade one of the nuclear weapons that has been in the U.S. arsenal for decades. (John Salois/Sandia National Laboratories via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories are claiming success with the first in a new series of test flights that are part of an effort to upgrade one of the nuclear weapons that has been in the U.S. arsenal for decades.

An F-16 from Nellis Air Force Base dropped an inert B61-12 bomb over the Nevada desert last month to test the weapon's non-nuclear functions as well as the plane's ability to carry the weapon.

With a puff of dust, the mock bomb landed in a dry lake bed at the Tonopah Test Range.

Scientists are planning to spend months analyzing the data gathered from the test.

Officials say the first production unit of the B61-12, developed under what is called the Life Extension Program, is scheduled to be completed in 2020.