Mar 16, 2014
B61-12 Nuclear Bomb Integration On NATO Aircraft To Start In 2015
The integration marks the beginning of a significant enhancement of the military capability of NATO’s nuclear posture in Europe and comes only three years after NATO in 2012 said its current nuclear posture meets its security requirements.
The integration will take place on Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16A/B and on German and Italian PA-200 Tornado fighter-bombers. It is unknown if US and NATO F-16s happen simultaneously or US aircraft are first, but the process will last four years between 2015 and 2018. Integration of German and Italian Tornados will take a little over two years.
The B61-12 will also be integrated on USAF F-15E, F-16C/D, and B-2A aircraft, and later on the F-35A Lightning II. The US Air Force plans to equip all F-35s in Europe with nuclear capability by 2024.
In addition to the US Air Force, the nuclear-capable F-35A will be supplied to the Dutch, Italian, Turkish, and possibly Belgian air forces.
From the mid-2020s, the B61-12 will also be integrated on the next-generation heavy bomber (LRS-B) planned by the US Air Force.
Integration of US nuclear weapons onto aircraft of non-nuclear weapon states that have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and promised “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly,” is, to say the least, problematic.
The arrangement of equipping non-nuclear NATO allies with the capability and role to deliver US nuclear weapons was in place before the NPT entered into effect and was accepted by the NPT regime during the Cold War. But for NATO to continue this arrangement contradicts the non-proliferation standards that the member countries are trying to promote in the post-Cold War world.
How scattering enhanced nuclear bombs across Europe in five non-nuclear countries will enable “bold reductions” in US and Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe and help create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons is another question.