The lines below were written in 2012 on eurasianhub.com:
“If everything goes to plan, Turkey will receive the United States’ newest nuclear weapon in 2019. Turkey currently hosts between 60 and 70 B61 gravity bombs at Incirlik air force base. During the Cold War, Turkish aircraft were on full nuclear alert status – meaning that Turkish aircraft were loaded with nuclear weapons and ready to take to the air in minutes, should NATO give the order. Now Turkish F-16 are only nuclear certified and would have to fly to Incirlik and pick up the bombs.”
Six years on, the news that after two successful non-nuclear system qualification flight tests of the B61-12 on the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada (U.S. of A.) on June 9, conducted by the 419th Test & Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, B61-12 guided nuclear gravity bombs will be sent to European NATO bases in European countries, including Turkey, comes as no surprise to those following military developments.
Russian RIA Novosti reads that the U.S. plans to deploy B61-12 at military bases in Europe – namely in Germany, Italy, Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands. According to the estimates of the Congressional Budget Office, it is planned to spend 25 billion dollars for the modernisation of tactical nuclear forces in the next 30 years (2017-2046).
A U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) statement reads that “The B61-12 LEP will consolidate and replace the existing B61 bomb variants in the [U.S.] nuclear stockpile. The first production unit is on schedule for completion in fiscal year 2020.” The year 2020 agrees with what a Russian expert told ria.ru regarding the time those NATO countries will receive the new bombs.
According to eurasianhub.com, “The B61 is a family of five nuclear weapons (The B61-3, 4, 7, 10, and 11 – dubbed mods). The United States only deploys the B61-3 and 4 in Europe. The B61-3 has a dial-a-yield ranging from .3 to 170 kt, while the B61-4′s yield ranges from .3 – 50 kt. These weapons, because they are deployed in Europe and carried by fighter bombers, are dubbed to be strategic. (The range of the delivery vehicle matters for classification purposes).”
The total of American nuclear weapons in EU NATO states, Turkey included are estimated to 150, with B61s in Turkey being around 50 -this based on data provided by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). All 50 are in the İncirlik air base in the southern Turkish province of Adana.
This nuclear weapon (the B61-12 ), the trials of which, according to top States Air Force “were progressing successfully” as they had said in May, “will help consolidate and replace the existing B61 bomb variants in the U.S.’s nuclear stockpile”, a Department of Energy release read.
The B61-12 and the connection with the F-35
At a time when there is heated discussion over the F-35 purchase by Turkey and whether the U.S. will finally make the delivery as scheduled, military.com reports that “The F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office has also been working on integrating the latest modification into its weapons arsenal.
The F-35 was designed with a requirement to carry a nuclear payload. In 2015, an F-35 flew with the B61-12 to measure its vibration in the aircraft’s weapons bay.”…. / IBNA