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US tested F-35 fighters for thermonuclear strike

Having a fifth-generation fighter with such capabilities gives a whole new strategic-level capability, the U.S. believes.

The U.S. military has conducted a certification test of the fifth-generation fighter F-35A Lightning II to strike with a thermonuclear bomb B61-12. This was announced by the U.S. Air Force Combat Aviation Command on Tuesday, October 5.

It was reported that two F-35A Lightning II fighters recently conducted a bombing raid using a test version of the B61-12 unarmed guided thermonuclear air bomb. It is noted, however, that this event marked the completion of certification of the aircraft in a nuclear configuration.

The fighters conducted the bombing at the Tonopah Proving Ground in Nevada. This was the first use of the B61-12 bomb by the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force indicates that not all fighters of this type will be designed to carry nuclear weapons — only their special squadrons.

"The B61 series bombs are tactical gravity nuclear weapons that can be used on dual-purpose aircraft such as the F-15E and F-16 C/D," said Lt. Col. Daniel Jackson, chief of the Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Unit at U.S. Air Force Combat Aviation Command headquarters.

He noted that "having a fifth-generation fighter with these capabilities provides a whole new strategic-level capability that enhances our nation's nuclear deterrent capabilities."

A feature of the new B61-12 aircraft bomb, which replaces the obsolete B61 models, is the tail fin. It makes the bomb controllable and more accurate, allowing it not to be parachuted down (which required flying precisely over the target), but to be dropped from a flying aircraft, after which the bomb autonomously plans towards the target for many kilometers, thrusting if necessary.

Recall that at the end of September, the Pentagon tested a hypersonic missile. Its speed is five times the speed of sound. The tests were successful.

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