Germany may buy Lockheed’s F-35 because of B61 nuclear bombs

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BERLIN, ($1=0.89 Euros) – The rejected stealth fighter F-35 as a possible option to replace the German Tornado may return to the race for the German Air Force, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned, citing information from the German news agency DPA.

The reason is 20 B-61 nuclear bombs, which were given by the United States to Germany under the NATO “Nuclear Sharing” program. German fighter-bomber Tornado IDS is retiring and Berlin must find a replacement. In recent years, Germany jumping in its choice from the Eurofighter Typhoon to the F / A-18 Super Hornet, rejecting the F-35.

Now, however, the situation is changing dramatically. The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Norway have already made their choice and it is to acquire stealth F-35 fighters. In fact, in recent years, where Lockheed Martin’s F-35 has been involved, he has won, and Germany is one of the few countries that has not preferred the F-35.

Berlin’s problem is that the United States does not license a nuclear weapon to one of former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s favorite fighters, the Eurofighter EF-2000. In this way, the 20 nuclear bombs in question fall out of service with the European fighter jet.

Nearly two years ago, Berlin began looking for two other options – the F / A-18 Super Hornets [Block III] and the 15 E / A-18 Growlers. However, the United States has removed the F / A-18 Super Hornets from its list of aircraft required to carry a nuclear weapons certificate. The reason: Washington is already embarking on another military nuclear strategy and removing nuclear weapons from its aircraft carriers.

U.S. assembled the first B61-12 nuclear bomb

To complete the picture that describes the new chances of the F-35 to “take over” the German Air Force, in November 2021 the United States developed the first serial guided thermonuclear bomb B61-12 Life Extension Program [LEP].

According to the report, the B61-12 bomb modernization project lasted more than nine years – such a long period was required for the design, development, qualification, and production of components.

It is known that B61-12 should replace other tactical versions of this bomb [-3, -4, and -7] and will probably be stored at US and NATO bases in Europe. The main carriers of this bomb will be F-35A and F-15E fighters.

What is a B61-12 thermonuclear bomb?

The B61-12 thermonuclear bomb belongs to the B61 family. B61 is the main thermonuclear gravitational bomb of the United States, actively developed amid the Cold War with the Eastern blog close to the USSR.

According to the characteristics known to the general public, B61 has the possibility of a complete explosion, ie. a full range of ignition and delivery options, whether by air or ground. The B61 is capable of reaching supersonic flight speeds. The dimensions of the thermonuclear bomb are 3.56 m long, 33 cm in diameter, and a total weight of about 320 kg. Military experts say that depending on the B61 version, the weight can vary.

B6-12 nuclear bomb, photo credit: Bend Bulletin

The latest modification of the B61 is the B61 Mod 12 or B61-12. One of the tests of the B61 Mod 12 at the very beginning of its development showed that this thermonuclear bomb can penetrate underground and reach an equivalent ability to explode on the surface of weapons from 750 kilotons to 1.25 megatons.

Experts say that “underground penetration” was not planned, but it is good news, as B61 Mod 12 could become a successful replacement for B61 Mod 11, whose main function is underground penetration. The B61 Mod 11 is expected to be decommissioned by the end of 2030.

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