Russian historian believes that the F-16s pose a danger to Russia

Military historian Yuriy Knutov suggested that the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine could be a prologue to the fact that the North Atlantic Alliance may transfer tactical nuclear weapons to Kyiv.

F-16V and a 50-year-old fighter operate in an interception combo
Photo credit: Taiwan

In a conversation with the news agency, he noted that the American fighters are modified and capable of carrying nuclear bombs of the B61 type. He recalled that these weapons are located in Europe in American bases in the Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, Belgium, and Italy.

“Whether there are such plans for the future or not, it is difficult to say now, but the very fact and technical characteristics allow us to consider the F-16 as a carrier of nuclear weapons,” the interlocutor quoted the media as saying.

He suggested that the next step could be the delivery of “Apache” – anti-tank helicopters. It is also possible to send a Polish and Lithuanian contingent, as the former NATO Secretary General spoke about it, added Knutov.

Should Russia be worried?

Example of Ukraine: 9 Abrams destroy 47 Soviet tanks in minutes
Photo credit: US Army

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, several “red lines” have already been crossed. Delivery of Western Leopard, Challenger, and Abrams tanks, upcoming delivery of F-16s, as well as cluster munitions, were part of the “Western Red Line”. I.e. at the moment, we can assume that other “red lines” can also be crossed.

In this regard, if the war continues and its outcome remains unclear, or not in favor of Ukraine and its Western partners, and if the use of nuclear weapons appears on the front, Ukraine may also get one.

Therefore, it is important to know which modifications of the F-16 can carry nuclear weapons. The F-16 was modified to carry the B61 bomb in two versions: the F-16C and the F-16D. These versions were modified to carry the B61-3, B61-4, B61-7 and B61-10 bombs. Modifications include changes to the aircraft’s avionics, weapons systems, and structural components to accommodate the weight and size of the bomb.

The specific variant of the bomb that can be carried depends on the block of the F-16. For example, the F-16 Block 15 can carry the B61-3, B61-4, B61-10, and B61-15 nuclear bombs, while the F-16 Block 52 can carry the B61-7, B61-11, and B61-12 nuclear bombs.

What is a B61 bomb?

U.S. assembled the first B61-12 nuclear bomb for F-35A and F-15E
Photo credit: The Sun

The B61 is a thermonuclear bomb, also known as a tactical nuclear weapon, developed by the United States in the 1960s. It is a variable yield weapon, meaning that its explosive power can be adjusted to suit the target and mission requirements.

The B61 has undergone several modifications and upgrades over the years, resulting in different variants with varying capabilities. It is designed to be delivered by aircraft, such as the F-15E, F-16, and B-2, and has a maximum range of approximately 50 miles.

The B61 has been deployed by the United States and its NATO allies in Europe as part of their defense strategy during the Cold War and beyond. Despite efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, the B61 remains in active service and is considered a critical component of the US nuclear arsenal.

The Russian equivalent

The Russian equivalent of the US nuclear bomb B61 is the gravity bomb known as the FAB-5000. It is a thermonuclear bomb with a yield of up to 5 megatons of TNT. The FAB-5000 is designed to be dropped from an aircraft and is capable of penetrating fortified underground targets. It is considered one of the most powerful bombs in the Russian nuclear arsenal.

Su-34 may have 'anomalously dropped' a FAB-500M62 bomb on Belgorod
Photo by VitalyKuzmin

The FAB-5000 was first tested in 1976 and was officially introduced into service in 1985. It is believed that Russia has around 100 of these bombs in its nuclear arsenal. The FAB-5000 is carried by the Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic bombers.

The FAB-5000 is similar to the B61 in terms of its role as a gravity bomb and its ability to penetrate underground targets. However, the FAB-5000 is significantly more powerful than the B61, which has a maximum yield of 340 kilotons. The FAB-5000 is also a much larger bomb, with a weight of around 5,000 kilograms compared to the B61’s weight of around 320 kilograms.

Will Europe participate?

Firstly, it is important to note that Ukraine is not currently a nuclear-armed state and has committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Therefore, the scenario of Ukraine receiving nuclear bombs from the US is purely hypothetical and unlikely to happen.

MiG-29 Fulcrum drops badass JDAM bombs but keeps failing - Mizokami
Photo credit: Getty Images

However, if such a scenario were to occur, probably, European countries would not support this decision. The possession of nuclear weapons by Ukraine would be seen as a destabilizing factor in the region, and could potentially lead to an arms race with neighboring countries.

Furthermore, the European Union has a strong stance against nuclear weapons and actively promotes disarmament. Therefore, any move towards nuclear proliferation by Ukraine would be met with strong opposition from European countries.

Some of the European countries that would likely oppose Ukraine’s possession of nuclear weapons include Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. These countries are all signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and have committed to disarmament and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.

Finally, it is important to note that the US has its own policies and regulations regarding the transfer of nuclear technology and weapons. Any decision to provide Ukraine with nuclear bombs would be subject to strict scrutiny and approval processes within the US government, and would likely face opposition from within the US as well.


Follow us everywhere and at any time. has responsive design and you can open the page from any computer, mobile devices or web browsers. For more up-to-date news, follow our Google News, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages. Our standards: Manifesto & ethical principles.