The B61-12 entered service in FY1980, after a field test program conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in 1971. The 12th modification (and final) will see the B61-12 enter the USAF inventory in FY2022. Expected features for the B61-12 include: (1) significantly improved reliability over the older B61 variant, (2) superior maneuverability on the battlefield despite its size, (3) greater accuracy at ranges beyond 500 kilometers, (4) increased lethality over its predecessor, the B61-10 (a.k.a. "MK 41") due to the larger diameter warhead, (5) improved impact/blast fragmentation on soft targets, and (6) a reduced ecological impact (less radioactive fallout over a wide area). Considering the B61-12’s design is at risk, the program is highly classified.
On May 29, 2002, an A-6E Intruder (50-9504) piloted by John L. Rogers, which was then based at Edwards AFB, California, was awarded a 5-star combat capability award. The plane took off at around 0:50 a.m. from Inyokern Airport, and its target was a target at the Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. It worked target at 42.6 N, 120.2 W. During this time, the A-6E was attacked by a surface-to-air missile. This missile struck the plane. The crew, the 1st Lt. Rogers, retrieved his ejection seat and bailout, and then he guided the plane back to the airport. At the airport, a rescue crew flew the plane. The plane was then transported to the Naval Hospital, where the crew members were in a good health. The crew members were made available for debriefing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, on June 1. They explained the hull and flight systems, gas tanks, and weapon systems. They discussed weapons, navigation, and flight pattern. The maintenance crew informed them that they did a good job on the flight. d2c66b5586