NATO pins nuclear plans on F-35 — Analysis
US nuclear bombs “shared” with European allies will be deployed on Lockheed Martin jets, NATO says
NATO planners regularly update US “nuclear sharing” program to account for most European allies planning to buy F-35 joint strike fighter jets, the alliance’s director of nuclear policy said this week. Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter has been embraced by multiple US allies, including most recently Germany, despite the Pentagon’s own misgivings about the program.
“We’re moving fast and furiously towards F-35 modernization and incorporating those into our planning and into our exercising and things like that as those capabilities come online,”Jessica Cox, the Director of NATO Nuclear Policy Directorate in Brussels said Wednesday that she added, ” “By the end of the decade, most if not all of our allies will have transitioned”The F-35.
Defense News reported that Cox was speaking during an internet discussion hosted by Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance Deterrence Center.
Berlin had announced a month ago that Germany will replace its Tornado jets by F-35s. The German government committed to purchasing up to three dozen F-35s and specifically referenced the nuclear sharing mission.
Cox indicated that NATO could ask NATO’s other NATO allies to continue operating F-35s, like Denmark, Norway or Poland, for support in future nuclear sharing mission. “will also have some operational advantages with the F-35 since there will be opportunities for enhanced networking and integration across the force.”
In addition to Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey are currently hosting an estimated 150 US nuclear weapons – mainly B-61 gravity bombs, intended to be carried by smaller fighter-bombers like the Tornado or the F-16 – according to estimates by the British think tank Chatham House.
Finland and Sweden recently expressed a desire for NATO membership. Helsinki announced that it will purchase 60 F-35s as early February. Russia responded to the call by announcing that it will reposition its nuclear and deterrent troops accordingly.
In the 1960s, some US nuclear bombs were first deployed in Europe. Ending this program was high on the list of security demands Moscow presented to the US and NATO in December 2021, which were rejected in January – a month before the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine.
The F-35 originally was designed to be a modular, cost-effective design that would replace many older models serving with the US Air Force and Navy. The F-35 ended up being three separate designs that cost over $1.7 trillion each, making it the most expensive weapon program in US history.
The fifth-generation stealth fighter of the USAF has been plagued by performance problems, in addition to its high price. In fact, the USAF’s new chief of staff demanded a study on a different aircraft for February 2021.
General Charles Q. Brown Jr., compared F-35 to an airplane. “high end”Ferrari’s sports car is only available for Sunday driving, so we are looking for offers. “clean sheet design”A “5th-gen minus” workhorse jet instead. Multiple US outlets described the proposal of his as an “amenity jet”. “tacit admission”The F-35 Program had been abandoned.
Russia launched its military offensive in Ukraine on February 24, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the 2014 German and French-brokered Minsk Protocols, designed to give the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. Moscow recognized the Donbass states as independent nations and demanded Ukraine be declared neutral, so it would not become a member of the US-led NATO military bloc.