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F-35A certified to carry nuclear weapons

The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter has received operational certification to carry the B61-12 thermonuclear gravity bomb, according to a spokesperson for the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) who spoke with Breaking Defense.

A spokesperson for the JPO, Russ Goemaere, announced that the certification process for certain F-35A aircraft to carry the B61-12 was completed on 12 October, ahead of schedule. This certification has officially designated the F-35A as a “dual-capable” aircraft as it can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons. The completion of this process was a pledge made to NATO allies and was due to be completed by January 2024.

“The F-35A is the first 5th generation nuclear capable aircraft ever, and the first new platform (fighter or bomber) to achieve this status since the early 1990s. This F-35 Nuclear Certification effort culminates 10+ years of intense effort across the nuclear enterprise, which consists of 16 different government and industry stakeholders,” Goemaere said.

“The F-35A achieved Nuclear Certification ahead of schedule, providing US and NATO with a critical capability that supports US extended deterrence commitments earlier than anticipated.​”

The F-35A aircraft is approved to carry only the newer B61-12 variant, which will replace the older models. However, this certification does not extend to the short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B and carrier-launched F-35C variants.

Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie
Neil Ritchie is the founder and editor of DefenceToday.com. Neil is also the editor of other online publications covering military history, defence and security. He can be found on Twitter: @NeilRitchie86.

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