The US is ready to deploy autonomous nuclear bombers, with the next generation strategic bombers as the chances of a nuclear war progresses.
Nuclear War: US Strategic Bombers
The Long-Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program included both manned and unmanned systems. This LRS-B program had already replaced both B-52 and B-1 bombers.
The LRS-B program had been equipped to perform an extended range of missions, including nuclear attack, surveillance, intelligence, strategic and tactical conventional strike, reconnaissance (ISR), and electronic attack.
In an article written for Asia Times, Richard Bitzinger wrote that at the beginning, the US military planned to obtain 80 to 100 LRS-Bs, however, the number could gradually rise to 200 bombers.
The publication had also reported that many of these missions might not need a manned system. During those cases a drone version of the LRS-B could carry out many of the more tedious tasks. These tasks included ISR or electronic attack, and using an unmanned system would help the crew to avoid stress.
Nuclear War: Fake Nuclear Weapons Practice
On October 6, 2016, it was reported that the US Air Force Global Strike Command in collaboration with NNSA, conducted triumphant surveillance flight tests. The tests were done by making use of joint test assemblies (JTA) of the B61-7 and B61-11.
According to National Nuclear Security Administration, joint test assembly’s were fake weapons which had sensors and instrumentation built inside them. This permitted scientists and engineers from national laboratories to evaluate their performance.
The official website also stated that the joint test assemblies carried no nuclear materials and were not capable of nuclear yield. The joint test assemblies were also supposed to have a flight recorder which would store bomb performance data for each test.
“The B61 is a critical element of the U.S. nuclear triad and the extended deterrent,” said NNSA’s Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application, Brigadier General Michael Lutton.
“The recent surveillance flight tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensure all weapon systems are safe, secure, and effective.”