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A cutaway drawing of the proposed WS-125 testbed aircraft
General information
Project forLong-range Nuclear-powered aircraft strategic bomber
Issued byUnited States Air Force

The WS-125 was an American super-long-range strategic bomber project during the Cold War to develop a nuclear-powered aircraft.


In 1954, the United States Air Force (USAF) issued a weapons system requirement for a nuclear-powered bomber, designated WS-125. In 1956, General Electric teamed up with Convair (X211 program) and Pratt & Whitney with Lockheed in competitive engine/airframe development to address the requirement.[1]

In 1956, the USAF decided that the proposed WS-125 bomber was unfeasible as an operational strategic aircraft. Finally, after spending more than $1 billion, the project was cancelled on March 28, 1961.[citation needed]


HTRE-2, a nuclear aircraft engine prototype at the Idaho National Laboratory
Experimental HTRE reactors for nuclear aircraft (HTRE-2 left and HTRE-3 right), on display at Idaho National Laboratory near Arco, Idaho

Two General Electric J87 turbojet engines were successfully powered to nearly full thrust using two shielded reactors. Two experimental engines complete with reactor systems (HTRE-3 and HTRE-1, which was modified and renamed HTRE-2) are located at the EBR-1 facility south of the Idaho National Laboratory.

See also


  1. ^ "Aviation History: The airplane that never was". January 1, 2018. Retrieved 2024-04-18.