The F-35A officially certified to carry a nuclear bomb.

The US certified the F-35A model to carry B61-12 bombs, becoming the world’s first stealth fighter that can use nuclear weapons.

The F-35A stealth fighter was certified capable of operating the B61-12 thermonuclear bomb from mid-October 2023, two months earlier than expected, but the information was only provided by the F-35 Program Office ( JPO) of the Pentagon announced on March 8.

“The F-35A is the world’s first 5th generation fighter capable of using nuclear weapons and is also the first completely new aircraft platform to achieve this status since the early 1990s. The -35A certified nuclear weapon will provide the US and NATO with essential capabilities to maintain their commitment to extended deterrence,” said JPO spokesman Russ Goemaere.

This nuclear bomb-carrying certification only applies to the F-35A line in service with the US Air Force and allied countries and is not valid for the F-35B version with vertical landing capabilities and the F-35C of the Marine Corps and Navy.

B61-12 is a project to extend the shelf life of the B61 tactical nuclear bomb line, deployed since the Obama administration. The US does not manufacture additional nuclear warheads for the B61-12 series but reuses warheads on older bombs and equips them with new guidance systems.

The B61-12 tactical nuclear bomb can be equipped with a satellite guidance system and carry a powerful warhead equivalent to 50,000 tons of TNT explosives. Its size is small enough to fit in the weapons compartment of the F-35A fighter’s body. The B61-12 bomb is considered the most dangerous weapon in the US nuclear arsenal due to its high precision and customization.

The B61-12 project has a total value of 10 billion USD, of which each complete bomb weighs 320 kg and costs 28 million USD, 1.5 times higher than a block of pure gold of the same weight.