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How the F-35 Makes Nuclear War Easier

Sept. 15, 2023, (EIRNS)—Polish President Andrzej Duda lamented the fact yesterday that despite Warsaw’s insistent requests, Poland still doesn’t have any NATO nuclear weapons on its soil. According to the Polish head of state, the worst threat to his country is posed by a neighbor that has nuclear weapons. “We don’t have nuclear weapons. And I don’t know if we ever will. No indications of this for now,” he reported, emphasizing that in such a situation NATO was the only guarantee.

But Poland’s purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter—Poland has 32 on order with plans for 32 more—means that Poland will be a nuclear-capable state, as will every other member of NATO that is buying the stealth jets. At least that’s the theme of an article for War on the Rocks platform by one Frank Kuhn, project coordinator for the Cluster for Natural and Technical Science Arms Control Research at Peace Research Institute Frankfurt. With so many NATO members now committed to buying the F-35, most important among them being Germany, NATO’s nuclear-sharing program will gain “credibility” that it now lacks because of various uncertainties and the current aging fleet of F-16s and Tornados that now make up NATO’s nuclear force.

“The F-35A Lightning II, which is set to replace current legacy fighters in almost all NATO states that take part in nuclear sharing, is a significantly more capable aircraft than the legacy fighters it is replacing,” Kuhn writes. “Together with the modernized B61-12 nuclear bomb, it will reconstitute NATO’s regional deterrence capabilities and help to deter further Russian aggression. Furthermore, the procurement of the F-35A by a large number of NATO members—and by Germany in particular—will alleviate doubts about the political credibility of the nuclear sharing commitment.

“Because the F-35A will become the foremost fighter jet in Europe and users cannot make any modifications to the airplane, it also offers new opportunities for alliance members in Eastern Europe to send jets and pilots to Western Europe and train for the nuclear sharing mission,” he says further. “As pilots from Eastern Europe, due to their heightened threat perception, may well be more willing to employ nuclear weapons in a potential conflict with Russia, such direct participation would reassure Eastern European allies that the nuclear commitment is politically credible.” He names, in this regard, Poland, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Romania.

In short, it means that all of these countries will be able to train to carry nuclear bombs even if they don’t have any on their territory, making them all members of the nuclear club along with the U.S., Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium. “Such a program, which is not currently possible because all states operate different aircraft types, would significantly increase the political credibility of NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangement,” Kuhn claims.

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