Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Concept of a nuclear-armed F-35C divides opinion - 8/4/2015 - Flight Global

Concept of a nuclear-armed F-35C divides opinion - 8/4/2015 - Flight Global: The US government may currently have no plans to carry nuclear weapons on the F-35C, the carrier-based variant of Lockheed Martin's Joint Strike Fighter, but some in Washington are keen to revive the concept.

They see as attractive the concept of carrier-based nuclear deterrence operations, particularly with an eye towards a 2017 review of the country's nuclear posture and planned initial operational capability of the naval fighter jet in 2018.

Thomas Karako of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies says it might not be the current policy to deploy nuclear weapons on aircraft carriers, but there needs to be some debate, particularly while the F-35C is still in development.

The problem, he says, is that America is coming to rely on fewer and fewer types of nuclear weapons and delivery platforms under the current so-called “3+2 strategy” where dual-capable fighters and bombers will be armed with just one type of nuclear gravity bomb (the B61-12) and one Long-Range Standoff (LRSO) cruise missile.

He says the current strategy is based on 1992, post-Cold War thinking and there is a case to be made for diversifying and distributing nuclear capabilities across the force to restore credibility to the “nuclear deterrent,” which is designed to keep traditional atomic adversaries like Russia and China in check.