However, the B61Mod12 (or B61-12) bomb could not penetrate the hundreds of feet of rock or concrete that protected Russias Caswinsky Mountains Nuclear Command Post. Countries such as Iran have also dug deep underground bunkers to hide their leaders and to protect their weapons systems from precise strikes by aircraft and missiles.
Reported that military research shows that the enemy has turned to the use of underground bunkers to defend the U. S. military precision strike capability, which combines satellite navigation with guided missiles and bombs.
In order to counter the precise impact of the United States, China and Russia began to bury the facilities underground, reinforced them with high-strength concrete, and used advanced tunnel equipment for deep excavation. These devices can dig hundreds of feet underground and penetrate hard rock formations.
Reported that in addition to the lack of penetrating nuclear bombs, the U. S. military is also concerned about the lack of underground secret facilities to identify and target the intelligence they need.
The latest nuclear posture assessment report of the US Department of defense outlines the governments nuclear modernization process. The report points out that opponents are increasingly using reinforced underground facilities.
China and Russia are deploying a group of anti-intervention/regional denial (A2/AD) capabilities and underground facilities to counter the conventional precision strike capability of the United States, the report said.
Speaking of North Korea, the report said Pyongyang relies on buried underground reinforcements to ensure the security of important military, command and control capabilities.
The picture shows us military aircraft mounted nuclear bombs.
Therefore, the United States will continue to deploy a range of conventional and nuclear capabilities that pose a threat to such targets, the Nuclear Posture Assessment said.
The weapons the military plans to use against underground reinforcement targets are the B83-1 gravity bomb (which reportedly has an explosive power of about 1.2 million tons of TNT equivalent) and the B61-11 gravity bomb (which reportedly has an explosive power of 400,000 tons of TNT equivalent).
B83-1 and B61-11 gravity bombs can pose a threat to a variety of protected targets, the Pentagon posture report said. Therefore, both weapons will remain in the arsenal, at least until there is enough confidence that B61-12 gravity bombs will be available by 2020.
It is said that the B61-11 nuclear gravity bomb has the ability of drilling. But nuclear experts say it does not have enough capacity to threaten strategic objectives protected by hard rock or concrete. Those targets are usually located hundreds of feet underground.
Major Megan Lindbergh-Archer, a spokesman for the U.S. Strategic Command, said the B61-11 gravity bomb was part of the commands plan to strike hardened targets.
B61-11 is just one of the many conventional and nuclear capabilities that can pose a threat to enemy underground reinforcements, she said. We are conducting regular capacity assessments to ensure that we can effectively prevent strategic attacks, reassure our allies, achieve our goals when deterrence fails, and guard against an uncertain future.
The picture shows the entrance of the Xia Yan Shan underground command post of the US Army.
A 2005 study by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that underground reinforcement targets could not be destroyed by conventional explosives. One or more nuclear weapons must be required.
Many of the more important strategic hard targets buried deep underground are beyond the ability of conventional ground-penetrating bombs, and only nuclear weapons can pose a threat of destruction to them, the report said.
The study found that underground facilities were used to hide leaders, military and industrial personnel, weapons, equipment and other assets. It is estimated that there are 10,000 underground reinforcement targets, about 20% of which have strategic functions, and half of which are located in or around urban areas, making targeting more complex.
Many underground command and control facilities and missile tunnels are hidden in rock or concrete layers 328 to 1300 feet underground, mostly less than 820 feet deep. Some are located in granite beds or limestone formations that range from 1640 feet to 2296 feet.
The new B61-12 bomb test was conducted in June 9th in the NEPAD experimental site, Nevada. Brigadier General Michael Leighton, senior official of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, said the unarmed bomb flight test showed that B61-12 nuclear bomb life extension program continues to make progress in meeting national security requirements.
The latest B61 bomb should integrate and replace all existing B61 bombs and be put into production by FY2020.
The weapon is said to be capable of various types of attacks, such as low-equivalent strikes, ground explosions, high-equivalent explosions and ground penetration attacks.
Reported that, but its ability to drill is problematic.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon nuclear policy maker, said: B61-12 will have little capacity to deal with buried reinforcement targets. Accuracy is not much help in combating deep underground targets. In the absence of drilling capability, equivalence is critical.
Schneider said that drilling for nuclear weapons requires high explosive power, it is not clear whether B61-12 will have sufficient explosive power.
Unless you have the ability to drill and penetrate rock formations, the only way to destroy a very strong target buried deep underground is to explode the equivalent, Schneider said.
The Obama administration testified in Congress that the B61-12 explosive equivalent was close to the lowest of the highest explosive equivalent of the B-61 series. Increasing accuracy alone does not give you a strong ability to strike deep-buried reinforcements.
Schneider said a report by Russias state media, Russias Satellite News Agency, claiming that B61-12 would be a ground-penetrating bomb was obviously a deliberate release of false intelligence.
He said: there is obviously a lot of reinforcement targets that are crucial to deterrence. If we cant threaten them, our deterrence will be weakened.
Reporting comments, Russias efforts to expand its large underground nuclear facilities, maintaining a deterrent against Russia is becoming increasingly difficult.
U.S. defense officials revealed in August 2016 and December 2017 that the Russian military is expanding and upgrading underground nuclear facilities across the country, including those in the Koswinsky Mountains, a major command center hundreds of miles east of Moscow.
In response, the Pentagon is considering a combination of two improved low-equivalent warheads and precision-guided missiles to hit underground bunkers.
Reported that in the late 1990s, the Pentagon is considering the development of a nuclear-drilled earth bomb, and around the solid nuclear-drilled earth bomb (Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator) to carry out work. However, the plan was terminated during the George W. Bush administration.
Current nuclear modernization plans include the establishment of a new strategic nuclear projection system over the next 28 years, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost $12 trillion.
Under the plan, $772 billion will go to new bombers, missiles and missile submarines, $25 billion to tactical nuclear weapons, and $445 billion to modernize laboratories and production facilities, as well as new command and control systems and upgraded communications and early warning systems.
Another former government nuclear expert, who declined to be named, said the Chinese and Russians had deployed super-solid targets.
The former official said the B61-12 was not a ground-penetrating bomb, while the B61-11 was the only one designed to destroy some underground targets, adding that the latter is unlikely to destroy modern underground reinforcement targets deployed by Russia and China.
Reported that Russias mobile orbital system was deployed in a tunnel under 328 feet of granite in south-central Russia, these systems are the main reason for the United States in the late 1990s and early 21st century to develop a new type of nuclear earth penetrating bomb (this effort was unsuccessful). Under the pressure of anti nuclear activists, the plan was abolished by House Republicans in 2005.
Another potential ground penetrating weapon, the new low-equivalent version of the D5 nuclear missile warhead, will penetrate some Russian and Chinese air defense systems and pose a threat to many, but not all, solid targets, the former official said.
The former official said the U.S. military is moving in the opposite direction to Russia and China, which are streamlining their own structures.
The former official said plans to establish the space force as the sixth service and elevate cyber command to the operational command level are creating more departments that are not easy to integrate.
The U.S. may be able to pose a threat to Chinas super-solid targets by deploying hypersonic strike vehicles with precision strike capability in the future, but the current plan requires missile warheads to be non-nuclear warheads and therefore cannot penetrate reinforced targets.
Hans Christensen, a nuclear expert with the American Federation of Scientists, says physical limits determine the penetration depth of a nuclear or conventional weapon.
B61-12 has not been designated as a ground penetrating bomb, but it still has limited capabilities, he said.
Christensen believes a weapon can be attacked by ground-shockcoupling without reaching underground facilities.
He said: you only need to let the explosion take place below the surface of about 3 meters to achieve the desired result. In this way, a low explosive power ground penetrating warhead will produce the same effect as a weapon detonated on the ground. The explosion of weapons on the ground is much more powerful.
If a B61-12 bomb with 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent is detonated three meters below the surface, the effect would be the same as if a weapon with 750,000 to 1.2 million tons of TNT equivalent were detonated below the surface, he said. The B61-11 can penetrate up to 400 feet deep, and the cancelled solid nuclear-drilled-earth bomb (with an explosive power of 1 Mt TNT equivalent) can reach 800 feet deep. By contrast, the 9 million tons of TNT equivalent produced by detonating an old B53 bomb on the ground can destroy a bunker up to 750 feet deep, Christensen said. Its always possible to build facilities deeper underground without being directly threatened by these penetrating bombs, he said. The real question is how important it is to combat them. (compile / Feng Xue) this article source: Reference News Net editor: Ma Chao _NBJ9865
If a B61-12 bomb with 50,000 tons of TNT equivalent is detonated three meters below the surface, the effect would be the same as if a weapon with 750,000 to 1.2 million tons of TNT equivalent were detonated below the surface, he said.
The B61-11 can penetrate up to 400 feet deep, and the cancelled solid nuclear-drilled-earth bomb (with an explosive power of 1 Mt TNT equivalent) can reach 800 feet deep.
Its always possible to build facilities deeper underground without being directly threatened by these penetrating bombs, he said. The real question is how important it is to combat them. (compile / Feng Xue)