F-35A First 5th-Gen Fighter Jet Authorized to Carry Nukes

Lockheed Martin’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft has received authorization to carry nuclear bombs.

Russ Goemaere, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), recently told Breaking Defense that the much-awaited certification was awarded several months ago but only announced now.

The milestone will allow some F-35As to carry two B61-12 nuclear gravity bombs, as well as ground-scanning sensors for precise target neutralization.

It makes the US-made aircraft a “dual-capable” platform usable for both conventional and nuclear warfare.

According to Goemaere, this is the first time a nuclear certification has been given to a fifth-generation aircraft. It is also the first time since the early 1990s it has been achieved by a fighter or bomber aircraft.

“This F-35 Nuclear Certification effort culminates 10+ years of intense effort across the nuclear enterprise…” he told the outlet. “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.​”

Goemaere clarified that the certification is solely for the F-35A and not its other versions, the F-35B and F-35C.

A Lethal Combo

The awarding of nuclear certification comes as the US military is facing increasing threats from near-peer adversaries.

Being able to carry nuclear bombs will boost the firepower of the F-35A, which is set to replace the US Air Force’s aging F-16 fleet.

The Joint Strike Fighter aircraft boasts superior agility and maneuverability, enabling it to reach otherwise inaccessible targets.

The F-35A also reportedly features unmatched stealth and speed that allows it to penetrate hostile airspace and launch nuclear bombs with unprecedented accuracy.

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