U.S. Nuclear Force Build-Up Is Proceeding
June 23, 2020 (EIRNS)—The Pentagon’s various programs for modernizing its nuclear forces are proceeding without letup. Yesterday, the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office released a series of photos depicting F-35A flight test aircraft conducting drop tests of the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb. The tests were carried out between June 2019 and February 2020. Nuclear certification of the F-35A dual capable aircraft (that is, it can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons) is due to be completed in 2023.
The U.S. Navy meanwhile is preparing to sign about $10 billion worth of contracts to begin construction of the first two Columbia class nuclear ballistic missile submarines. The Defense Department issued a release on June 22 announcing the awarding of a $869 million contract to General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut to complete design work on the subs as part of a contract modification, reported Defense News. The announcement also establishes the Navy’s intent to award an additional $9.5 billion for the first two hulls, which will happen once the U.S. Congress officially approves the two-ship buy and appropriates the funding.