Canada has paid $955 million for the development of the F-35 fighter-bomber with nuclear strike capabilities

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: The red tail of a B61-12 nuclear bomb is visible inside the bomb bay of the F-35 during a flight test in October 2019.

The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, entered into force on January 22, 2021.

Canada has not signed the Treaty.

The Canadian Press has reported: “[The Treaty] has no support among the countries that possess nuclear weapons — including the United States and its allies, including Canada. Canada doesn’t have nuclear weapons but its membership in NATO means it adheres to the 29-country military alliance’s nuclear-deterrent policy.”

Two weeks prior to the anniversary of the Treaty, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced that Canada would be purchasing 88 F-35A fighter-bombers.

The F-35 is nuclear capable

The F-35 has tested dropping a B61-12 nuclear free-fall bomb that would have an explosive yield of 50 kilotons (the bomb dropped on Hiroshima had an explosive yield of about 13 kilotons, while the bomb on Nagasaki had a yield of 21 kilotons).

Defense World reports: “The tests, carried out at Edwards Air Force Base in California, [with an inert bomb] were dated back to June 2019.”

CNN has also reported: “A US Air Force F-35 jet conducted a successful test drop of a mock nuclear bomb [in August 2020] while traveling at greater than the speed of sound.”

The Defense World article further highlights: “The test has proven that the nuclear bomb can be carried in the weapons bay of the F-35 thereby giving it the ability to take the bomb to its target undetected – a huge tactical advantage that flies in the face of global nuclear non-proliferation efforts.”

In October 2021, the Air Force Times reported: “America’s most advanced fighter jet is on its way to becoming the newest addition to the nuclear arsenal. The Air Force recently wrapped up the flight testing needed to ensure the B61-12 thermonuclear bomb design is compatible with the F-35A Lightning II, paving the way for the jet to begin carrying nuclear weapons. The airframe must still become certified to conduct nuclear operations as well.”

Canada also invests in the F-35

Beyond paying $19 billion to buy F-35s (with a lifecycle cost of $70 billion or more) Canada has been making payments toward the development of the F-35 since 1997.

By 2020, Canada’s payments totalled US $541.3 million. Previous payments were US $70.1 million per year. The payment in 2021 was slightly higher at US $71.7 million.

With its latest payment of US $99 million in May 2022, that total is now US $712 million (CAD $955.93 million).

If those payments continue in 2023 as expected, another payment of US $71.7 million would take the total to US $783.7 million (CAD $1.05 billion).

F-35s with nuclear hardware in Europe

At this point, there is no suggestion that the Canadian F-35As will carry nuclear weapons (though that could be an issue of concern).

The US Air Force says: “Not all aircraft will become nuclear-capable upon full certification. Only those units with a nuclear mission will be given the hardware and manpower necessary to configure and maintain nuclear-capable F-35s.”

Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, says that could include RAF Lakenheath, 100 kilometres from London, England, and Aviano Air Base, 90 kilometres north of Venice, Italy.

In response to German government’s decision to buy F-35 fighter-bombers, US ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann commented that it served to cement Germany’s “continued participation in NATO’s nuclear-sharing mission.”

Greenpeace activists in Germany have warned: “Germany doesn’t have nuclear bombs, but the US has nuclear bombs here.”

We remain deeply concerned that the Canadian government has purchased and invested in F-35s that have the “stealth first-strike capability” to deliver nuclear bombs with destructive yields almost four times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Photo by Koozma J. Tarasoff.

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