F-35: The Ultimate Nuclear Strike Platform

The F-35A emerges as a nuclear bomb strike platform, bolstering the Pentagon’s deterrence strategy and providing unprecedented tactical and operational options.

United States and nuclear deterrence

The integration of nuclear weapons on the F-35A brings additional flexibility to the Pentagon’s deterrence posture. This raises a critical question: should a limited and low-yield tactical nuclear response be contemplated in the event of an attack?

The addition of variable-yield, lower-yield, or tactical nuke options expands the range of options for commanders, adding layers, depth, and flexibility to the nuclear counterattack assurance.

The F-35A will soon fly with the upgraded B-61 Mod 12 nuclear bomb, which integrates into a single munition the operational capability of several legacy B-61 bomb variants.

F-35: The Ultimate Nuclear Strike Platform
Israeli F-35i and US F-15 aircraft conduct an exercise over Israel on November 29, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Pentagon and the B-61 Mod 12 bomb

The B-61 Mod 12 adds versatility and complicates the situation for an adversary facing a multifaceted threat. This bomb offers point detonation, lower power, bunker buster, and proximity fuze options.

An F-35A equipped with the B-61 Mod 12 poses a tactical nuclear threat at low altitudes, leveraging its stealth, speed, and maneuverability to hold targets at risk.

Nuclear deterrence is enhanced with the addition of the F-35A and the B-61 Mod 12 bomb, changing the equation in clear and measurable terms.

The B-61 Mod 12 bomb is a nuclear bomb designed by the United States that can be carried by fighter aircraft such as the F-16 and F-35. It is a part of the B61 nuclear bomb family, which has been in service since the 1960s.

The B-61 Mod 12 bomb is a modernized version of the B61 bomb, designed to be more accurate and has a lower yield than previous versions. It is also designed with a “dial-a-yield” feature, which allows the user to select the desired explosive yield, making it a more flexible and adaptable weapon.

The Pentagon, which is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, has overseen the development and deployment of the B-61 Mod 12 bomb. The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, which was released in 2018, stated that the B-61 Mod 12 bomb is a critical component of the United States’ nuclear deterrence strategy and that it enhances the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent by providing a low-yield option for potential adversaries.

The deployment of the B-61 Mod 12 bomb has been controversial, with some critics arguing that the development and deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons increase the risk of nuclear war. Proponents of the weapon argue that it provides a necessary deterrent against potential adversaries and helps to maintain the balance of power in the international system.

F-35 Maneuverability and Access

F35 adir

The F-35 possesses advantages over bombers such as the B-2, B-21, and B-52 when maneuvering close to ground targets in hotly contested threat zones, thanks to its stealthy properties and vectoring capabilities.

The F-35’s stealthy platform allows it to evade detection and get closer to targets that other bombers couldn’t reach. This new tactical capability of the F-35A enhances the nuclear deterrence strategy and contributes to the prevention of the use of nuclear weapons in all circumstances.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation, multi-role fighter plane. It has remarkable stealth capabilities, cutting-edge avionics and sensor fusion, and a vast array of armament systems, making it the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. Some have panned the F-35 due to its limited mobility and inaccessibility.


Since its inception, the F-35’s mobility has been a point of contention among aviation experts. Because of its intended role as a low-observable platform, the aircraft prioritizes stealth over agility in its design. Because of this design philosophy, the plane isn’t as nimble as others of its era, such as the F-22 Raptor.

The F-35 has undergone extensive testing of its mobility in a wide range of settings, from air-to-air combat to air-to-ground operations to close air support. 

Although not as nimble as some of its predecessors, the plane can nonetheless execute a wide variety of maneuvers, such as high-g turns, tight turns, and quick directional changes. Thanks to its cutting-edge avionics and sensor fusion systems, the F-35 can keep tabs on and attack several targets at once, greatly increasing its combat efficiency.


Particularly for smaller countries and allied states who purchased the F-35, access to the aircraft has been a concern. The F-35 is a cutting-edge platform with equally intricate service and upkeep needs. Some governments’ inability to provide proper maintenance and support for the planes has prompted worries about the planes’ longevity and efficiency in service.

In response, Lockheed Martin has established a worldwide network of support and sustainment services to provide all F-35 operators with the required education, servicing, and supplies. A comprehensive training program for pilots and maintenance staff and a network of regional repair and logistical centers exist.

Despite its problems with maneuverability and access, the F-35 is still the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft and an essential part of the defense plans of many nations. 

This aircraft’s stealth capabilities, an extensive arsenal of weaponry, and cutting-edge avionics and sensor fusion systems make it a potent fighting machine. Since more countries invest in the F-35 and put it into service, its role in international military operations will likely grow.


The F-35A strengthens the Pentagon’s nuclear deterrent by integrating the B-61 Mod 12 bomb, expanding tactical and operational options, and making the situation more difficult for adversaries.