Category Archives: Nuclear Weapon Abolition

Why the Pentagon Is Equipping the F-35 Jets With a Thermonuclear Bomb

Why the Pentagon Is Equipping the F-35 With a Thermonuclear Bomb
Kyle Mizokami
Fri, November 5, 2021

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is nearly certified to carry a new thermonuclear weapon, the B61-12.

Although the U.S. military has a variety of ways to deliver nuclear weapons, there are only a handful of ways to use them on the battlefield.

Using a crewed delivery system ensures there is a person in the loop for the entire flight who can execute last minute instructions.

The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is nearly ready to take on a new mission, that of a nuclear-capable bomber.

The Air Force has completed the flight testing to ensure the F-35A can safely—and reliably—drop the B61-12 thermonuclear bomb. The combination of crewed aircraft and nuclear bomb will ensure the U.S. government would have options in the event of a crisis, including one where a nuclear bomb could be literally recalled at the last second.

Nuclear weapons are divided into two categories: strategic and tactical. The two main differences between the two types are explosive yield and range. Tactical nuclear weapons typically range from about .3 kilotons (300 tons of TNT) to about 50 kilotons (50,000 tons of TNT).

Strategic nuclear weapons are in an entirely different class altogether. The yield of strategic nukes can range from 100 kilotons to well into the megaton range, with the U.S. military’s largest weapon having a yield of 1.3 megatons (the equivalent of 1,200,000 tons of TNT). Tactical nuclear weapons are generally shorter range weapons with ranges of 500 miles or less, while strategic nuclear weapons are designed to cross entire oceans to strike targets on the other side of the planet.

Today, tactical nuclear weapons are delivered by aircraft and submarine-launched missiles. The most numerous U.S. tactical nuclear weapon is the B61 series of bombs, a series that has been in continuous use since the 1960s. In the 2010s, the U.S. military developed a new B61 bomb, the B61-12. The B61-12 is not only more accurate, it’s designed to penetrate earth and concrete to strike underground facilities—think North Korean underground leadership bunkers, Iranian nuclear facilities, or similar targets.

This penetrating capability allows it to be more effective at nuking underground threats with less explosive power. The B61-12, rebuilt from older B61 series bombs, has a smaller yield and in fact has a “dial-a-yield” mechanism that allows for the yield to vary from .3 kiltons, 1.5 kilotons, 10 kilotons, and 50 kilotons.

One of the most important principles behind nuclear weapons is the idea of maintaining positive control over them at all times, as much as possible, up until the moment of detonation. This is not only a safety feature, it allows decision-makers increased flexibility under incredibly stressful circumstances.

A crewed aircraft makes an ideal platform for maximum control. With a crewed delivery system, the President of the United States could order a F-35A armed with the B61-12 to strike a target, then change his or her mind if the circumstances change. If the enemy suddenly calls for peace, the strike can be called off. This “recallability” is replicated at the strategic level with bombers like the B-2 Spirit, and the F-35A/B61-12 combo offers war planners the same capability at the tactical nuclear level. The F-35A’s stealth gives it a greater chance, unlike legacy aircraft like the F-15E Strike Eagle, of successfully penetrating enemy defenses and reaching the target.

What kind of targets could a F-35A drop a nuclear bomb on? Thanks to America’s overwhelming conventional firepower, it’s difficult to see the U.S. use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear targets. One target could be the location of a Russian missile command post, nuking it to sever the chain of command between Moscow and its own tactical nuclear forces. The actual missiles could be another target. If tactical nuclear weapons are already in use, a F-35A could dial the yield down to 1.5 kilotons and strike conventional targets, such as headquarters units, supply depots, and marshalling points for conventional forces.

The F-35A/B61-12 combo will be a tactical nuclear system primarily used against military targets. Still, “a nuke is a nuke,” and the use of tactical nuclear weapons would shift any conflict into a terrifying new phase. The use of tactical nukes could very well kick off a chain of escalation that grows to include the use of strategic nuclear weapons—with civilians and human civilization itself in the crosshairs.”

 

Take Action 

Nuclear Capability by Tom Boswell

Working Group: Veterans for Peace Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Send your e-mail address to vfp.nonukes@gmail.com

 

Madison is a Nuclear Free Zone

In 1983, the Madison City Council passed an ordinance declaring the city a nuclear free zone”.

 

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Wisconsin and Veterans for Peace-Madison are asking our City Council members (Alders) to pass a Back from the Brink Resolution which builds on this ordinance and commits the city to nuclear weapons free contracts and investments. Our City already has a socially responsible investment policy in place; it no longer invests in fossil fuel companies. We are asking the City do the same regarding nuclear weapons production.

Back from the Brink Background

 

No Nukes in Madison ~ Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)

Back from the Brink Background

Back from the Brink Page – Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Wisconsin

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Wisconsin is launching a campaign calling on Madison to support a “Back from the Brink” resolution.

The resolution endorses the 2017 United Nations ban of nuclear weapons, calls for specific steps to prevent nuclear war, and a commitment to nuclear weapons-free contracts and investments.

Support Back from the Brink  

 


In 1983, the Madison City Council passed an ordinance declaring the city a “nuclear free zone”. We are asking our City Council members (Alders) to pass a Back from the Brink Resolution which builds on this ordinance and commits the city to nuclear weapons free contracts and investments. Our City already has a socially responsible investment policy in place; it no longer invests in fossil fuel companies. We are asking the City do the same regarding nuclear weapons production.

Some say nuclear disarmament is an issue that should be taken up with our Senators and Representatives rather than our City Council members. But national policy has local consequences.

Plans are underway to expand the Truax Air Force base in Madison and bring in F-35 fighter jets designed to carry B61 nuclear bombs. If nuclear capable F-35’s were stationed here, Truax would become a nuclear target.

In the event of a nuclear-armed F-35 crash, Madison could be exposed to air, ground and water contamination with plutonium, even if a nuclear chain reaction did not take place.

No F-35’s – Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin


Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War is a national grassroots initiative seeking to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy and lead us away from the dangerous path we are on. The Call lays out five common-sense steps that the United States should take to reform its nuclear policy. We are asking individuals and organizations around the country to endorse The Call and build support for the U.S. government to adopt it as its highest national security priority. Join the effort and help build a safer world for our children to inherit.