In March 1958, the US Strategic Air Command requested a new class C nuclear bomb (weighing less than 5 tons, with explosive power in the megaton size) to replace the faulty Mk 41 model time.
Based on the Mk 46 bomb, American scientists released a new experimental bomb model named TX-53 in 1959.
The Mk 53 was put into production in 1962, lasting until June 1965. This was the height of the Cold War.
A total of 340 bombs were produced, and they were designed to be mounted on strategic bombers such as the Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress and B-58. From 1968, this type of bomb changed its name to B53.
B53 is quite large, with a length of 3.8 meters and a diameter of 1.27 meters. It weighs more than 4 tons in total, including the 400 kg brake parachute system.
The bomb has 5 parachutes, including a 1.5 meter diameter control parachute, a 4.9-meter diameter auxiliary parachute and three 14.6 meter diameter main parachutes. This parachute system is responsible for reducing the falling speed of the bomb.
The B-53’s warhead uses highly enriched uranium, instead of plutonium, and is laced with lithium-6. Explosive bait made from a mixture of RDX and TNT.
The explosive power of this bomb was about 9 megatons, which was 600 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945.
Some calculations show that a 9 megaton explosion would create a fireball with a diameter of 4-5km. The heat generated was so great that it could cause fatal burns to anyone without protective gear standing 28.7km away from the blast.
The shock wave from the explosion was enough to knock down all fortified structures within a radius of 14.9km. Everything within a 5.7km radius will turn to dust in an instant.
Finally, intense radiation will bombard the bodies of ordinary people within a radius of hundreds of kilometres from the centre of the explosion, enough to cause 90% of life to be gradually destroyed by evil diseases afterwards.
B53 was born with a historical role as a bunker-breaking weapon, the US wanted to use the shock wave from the explosion to destroy the underground shelters of the Soviet leadership in the Chekhov/Sharapovo area, located in the South. Moscow. However, this role was later assigned to the B61 bomb.
The US gradually dismantled the B53 nuclear bomb starting in 1967, but then the US swapped the bomb to become the warhead for the Titan nuclear ballistic missile.
In September 1980, an American soldier carrying out missile maintenance at Little Rock Air Force Base dropped a tool from a height of 24 meters and hit the outer shell of the Titan rocket’s first stage.
The shell was torn and the leaked fuel then exploded, sending the nuclear warhead up to 100 meters away.
Fortunately, the safety mechanism in the B53 bomb activated itself, preventing radioactive material from escaping.
After this accident, the Titan rockets werd retired. 50 B-53 bombs continued to be in US service and only retired in 1997, when the B61 Mod 11 bomb appeared. However, their destruction only started in 2010.
Because the B53 bomb is made with old technology and the engineers in charge of the assembly are retired or deceased, the bomb dismantling process almost has to be rebuilt from scratch. Engineers also have to create extremely complex tools and implement many processes to ensure the safe defuse of bombs.
According to the Nuclear Energy Security Administration (NNSA) of the US Department of Energy, the final destruction of the B53 bomb took place ahead of schedule and was in line with the goals set forth by the US.
It is known that the B53s are only considered destroyed when the 136kg decoy inside the bomb is separated from the nuclear fuel. The nuclear fuel is then stored in secure facilities. The remains of the bomb are either recycled or destroyed.
Currently, the US only maintains the B61 12 nuclear bomb, which has been reduced to a 50-kiloton explosive equivalent, equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT. However, they are super-accurate bombs, so they are still guaranteed to destroy the target.