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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 26, 2022

No, the United States isn’t testing a nuclear bomb from the B-1B Lancer

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  • This isn’t accurate, according to the U.S. Air Force. 

Tension among the United States, Russia and China have stoked some fears of nuclear war. On Aug. 1, at a conference about the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons in New York, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres discussed Russia's invasion of Ukraine and said, "Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation."

However, a recent Facebook post claiming that an American bomber is testing a nuclear bomb is wrong, according to the U.S. Air Force. 

"US is testing new deadliest nuclear bomb that shocks Russia and China," the Aug. 17 post says. 

It links to a blog post from the same date with the title "US is testing new most deadly nuclear bomb from B-1B Lancer."

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

A U.S. Air Force spokesperson told PolitiFact the information in the Facebook post isn’t accurate and that the aircraft "does not carry nuclear weapons." 

Beyond the title, the blog post doesn’t mention nuclear weapons again. Rather, it appears to borrow heavily from a 2021 story in The Drive about Boeing Co.’s plans to start testing hypersonic weapons capabilities for the B-1B Lancer in September 2022.

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Unlike the blog post, the Drive, an automotive news website, does mention nuclear weapons — but it doesn’t say the U.S. was testing them. 

The aircraft "were once intended to carry nuclear weapons," the article says, "before the B-1 lost this role after the end of the Cold War. The pylons were then disabled as the aircraft was made compliant with New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) regulations." 

New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation, was signed April 8, 2010, in Prague, and instituted Feb. 5, 2011. 

The Drive notes that "the original external pylons on the B-1B could also carry two missiles each, in this case, the nuclear-tipped AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile, or ALCM," but that none of the missiles under consideration "are expected to result in nuclear-armed weapons."  

The United States ended nuclear explosive testing in 1992, testing can be done using computer simulations without an actual nuclear detonation, said Matthew Fuhrmann, a Texas A&M University political science professor who studies nuclear proliferation.The State Department has said that "these computer simulation advances provide the United States with the ability to monitor and maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear explosive testing."  

Fuhrmann said the B-1B was converted to deliver strictly conventional munitions in the 1990s. 

"It could, in theory, deliver a nuclear payload," he said, "but, to my knowledge, does not currently do so and hasn’t for a couple decades." 

We rate this post False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 17, 2022

Blog post, Aug. 17, 2022

Los Angeles Times, Even a limited nuclear war could kill a third of world’s population, study shows, Aug. 15, 2022

The Drive, Hypersonic Missile Tests For The B-1 Bomber Are Coming Next Year According To Boeing, Sept. 29, 2021

State Department, U.S. Nuclear Weapon Computer Simulations, visited Aug. 26, 2022

The Washington Post, Hypersonic Weapons: Who Has Them and Why It Matters, April 6, 2022

Matthew Fuhrmann, political science professor at Texas A&M University, Aug. 25, 2022

Email interview with Ann Stefanek, media relations, U.S. Air Force, Aug. 25, 2022

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, "Sept. 23, 1992 - Last U.S. nuclear test," accessed Aug. 26, 2022.

NPR, Why the U.N. chief says we are 'one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,' Aug. 2, 2022

U.S. Air Force, B-1B Lancer, visited Aug. 26, 2022

Boeing, B-1B Lancer, visited Aug. 26, 2022

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No, the United States isn’t testing a nuclear bomb from the B-1B Lancer

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