Tactical Nuclear Bombs on F-16s Will Lack Precision
B61-12s are expected to replace all remaining examples of those previous versions in the US stockpile, which currently number around 150 across six European bases.
This includes bombs stored at facilities in Belgium, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands that the US military could make available to those countries' air forces during a major crisis as part of a NATO nuclear sharing agreement.The B61s at Incirlik Air Base in Turkiye, another NATO member, are only for American use.
Only the Air Force's F-15E Strike Eagle combat jets and B-2A Spirit stealth bombers, as well as the service's future B-21A Raider stealth bombers and certain American and NATO F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, are required to use the weapon's precision guidance tail kit at the moment.
As a result, the inability of certain aircraft, particularly F-16s and Tornados from the Belgian, German, Italian, and Dutch air forces, to use the B61-12 in guided mode is notable.
It had previously been revealed that older NATO F-16s and German Tornados lacked the necessary mission systems to use the bomb's guidance system in their current configuration, but it was unclear whether or not those DCA jets would be upgraded as part of the integration process.
The tail kit is a critical component of the B61-12 bomb. The Air Force, however, did not explain why they consider guidance kit expensive when it will be used in Europe. The bomb is for tactical use. It means friendly forces will be on the ground when used. The accuracy and precision are therefore crucial. Otherwise, ally forces would be lost.