By Michael Peck
May 14, 2013
The F-35 stealth fighters that America is selling to Israel will be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, according to Israeli media.
If Israeli F-35s can carry nukes, or if the ever-inventive Israeli defense industry can modify them to do so, then Israel could possess an atomic strike plane able to penetrate Iranian air defenses in the event of full-scale war.
Israel wants to deploy 19 F-35s in 2017 … and more later. Tehran is sure to strongly object to its rival possessing any nuclear-capable stealth fighters.
But the story, as reported in Israeli media, might be total nonsense. One problem is that the F-35, as originally designed, should only be compatible with the B-61 atomic bomb, America’s standard small nuke. Israel won’t even admit to possessing nuclear weapons at all. But it does—and they probably aren’t B-61s.
“Changing the internal wiring and engineering of the plane to accommodate a different warhead could be done, but not without significant challenges,” James Lewis, communications director for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told War is Boring. “Especially for a plane that’s had the extensive engineering challenges that have been the hallmark of the F-35 program.”
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