A US Air Force B-2A Spirit stealth bomber has released a B61-12 Joint Test Assembly (JTA) utilizing a new capability known as the Radar Aided Targeting System (RATS) during a capstone test at the Tonopah Test Range, Nevada.
The test was first revealed in an announcement by the 53rd Wing on July 8, but had taken place on June 14. RATS, which is only being tested on the B-2, improves weapon guidance accuracy in a Global Positioning System-degraded environment.
Capt David Durham, 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) B-2 weapons flight commander, said: “We flew multiple sorties testing the new RATS capability over the last nine months and collected test points on its performance. 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. Master Sgt Matthew Gibson, 72d TES lead analysis software developer, said: “This tool has opened the door for rapid and innovative software development in support of the B-2. 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. 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 Laboratories.