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F-35 Dropped From German Competition


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Well, it was prefered by the last Inspector of the Luftwaffe, and had its proponents; but the MoD has been known for some time to want a European model. Various reasons are rumored for the current decision - ongoing technical problems of the F-35, technological dependence upon the US, or the SPD in the Bundestag refusing to buy American from the Trump administration periode.

 

Note however that the Super Hornet officially remains in the race for Tornado replacement along with an improved Eurofighter though, and there are even suggestions of a split buy - even though neither aircraft is currently certified to carry the B61 nuclear bomb, a point that has been used against the Eurofighter as possible successor of Tornado's nuclear role. Some have pointed out the EF/A-18 Growler variant would also be a good fit for the SEAD capability currently provided by the Tornado ECR variant, which Germany has indicated to NATO to continue.

 

Some even point to the Super Hornet's carrier capability and dream about the Bundeswehr reestablishing a naval fast jet wing, which might then take over naval air warfare, SEAD (both currently done by Luftwaffe Wing 51, though they promptly let the former role wither), possible deployments to allied carriers (which Marine jet pilots hoped would justify their continued existence before they were disbanded) plus the nuclear role. Except the German B61 storage facilities are in Büchel, Rhineland-Palatinate - rather far from the sea, and unlikely to be moved due to the associated cost, and it ultimately being an American call.

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The F-35B would be a far better choice if they want to fly it off of allied carriers though, wouldn't it? With CATOBAR they've only got the USN and the Charles de Gaulle, whenever it's not broken.

 

Surely it can't be that hard to integrate a free-fall nuclear bomb onto a jet though. Could it be more about not wanting to start a debate about Germany continuing to have access to nuclear weapons?

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There isn't even a "politics" reason for it.

 

The Russian military land power in the Western, Southern and Northern military districts is rather unimpressive. Few heavy division equivalents. They might even get bogged down in Poland if Poland was on its own.

Russia couldn't withdraw all forces from Southern military district without losing much ground in the Caucasus anyway.

 

NATO & EU don't need nukes to counter Russian conventional power (the Belorussian military is almost negligible the Belorussian dictator would have no motivation to help Russia conquer the Baltics - Belarus would be Russia's next snack, and he prepares his son to be his successor).

A strategic use of B61 is nonsense, for there are SLBMs, ICBMs and IIRC still also ALCMs for that and all of those have better odds of reaching a strategic target in Russia.

 

The entire concept behind the B61 is obsolete IMO. It's all about being a slave to path dependency, not about 'What do we need now?'.

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Dual key is probably useless, and was a little questionable in its heyday anyway. But for the US, the B-61 still fills the void of tactical nuclear weapon, of which Russia has numerous types and examples and is manufacturing new models. There is no other tac nuke in US inventory, though the W76-2 will enter service within a year. But for Germany, yes the point of having free fall nukes is long gone. Russia would have a hard time eating Poland and an even harder time maintaining a supply line through it were it to try to get to Germany. And there is no reason for Russia to nuke German territory unless it is against US units at Ramstein, which would certainly provoke a tactical, if not strategic, US response.

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Modern land warfare uses so very much reduced troop densities that tactical nukes would have very little proper targets unless the opposing forces are careless.

 

So essentially tac nukes can be used against bottlenecks (such as pontoon bridging over a river) and to force opposing forces into maintaining great dispersion most of the time (including bivouac, which raises security concerns).

 

10...20 kt TNTeq nukes aren't terribly effective against troops in the field - you would rarely bust more than a battalion-sized force with them. We would probably need a dozen good drops to make much of a difference on the operational level, and that might require a couple dozen additional not so good drops and also some additional failed attempts to deliver.

 

100 kt TNTeq nukes are the monsters that people usually think of when they hear 'nuclear bomb', but they are much less usable exactly because of their huge radius of destruction. You cannot really use them when the target is anywhere near your own forces.

They might be considered usable on airbases, on Murmansk port and such - but not so much on land forces in the field. And even their usability is diminished by their power; such a seriously-sized nuclear strike could trigger a panic and a devastating nuclear war.

 

And then there's the issue that you shouldn't destroy what you purport to defend.

 

The German Luftwaffe would not drop B61s unless the world's practically gone already anyway, and then there'd be no utility to it.

 

 

The B61 issue should be considered a non-issue for the Luftwaffe. I think it's misused as a faux argument by people who want the F-35 for altogether different reasons.

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As far as this competition is concerned, I really can't see the F/A-18 in Luftwaffe markings when the Eurofighter is already in service with an established logistics/support base. And European companies would like the business.

 

Other than maybe cost, does the Super Hornet offer any advantages over the Eurofighter? Possibly the new Block III with conformal tanks may have some advantage in range and stores capability.

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As far as this competition is concerned, I really can't see the F/A-18 in Luftwaffe markings when the Eurofighter is already in service with an established logistics/support base. And European companies would like the business.

 

Other than maybe cost, does the Super Hornet offer any advantages over the Eurofighter? Possibly the new Block III with conformal tanks may have some advantage in range and stores capability.

 

Spare parts availability? :)

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Eurofighter makes the most sense if F-35 is out. F-35 would to a degree offset the ERC replacement - it at least would have a very broadband ESM capability along with a way to quickly and clandestinely triangulate between several aircraft. It lacks broadband jamming capabilities, but a NGJ buy could offset that. But Eurofighter makes sense in the NIH kinda way.

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Modern land warfare uses so very much reduced troop densities that tactical nukes would have very little proper targets unless the opposing forces are careless.

 

So essentially tac nukes can be used against bottlenecks (such as pontoon bridging over a river) and to force opposing forces into maintaining great dispersion most of the time (including bivouac, which raises security concerns).

 

10...20 kt TNTeq nukes aren't terribly effective against troops in the field - you would rarely bust more than a battalion-sized force with them. We would probably need a dozen good drops to make much of a difference on the operational level, and that might require a couple dozen additional not so good drops and also some additional failed attempts to deliver.

 

100 kt TNTeq nukes are the monsters that people usually think of when they hear 'nuclear bomb', but they are much less usable exactly because of their huge radius of destruction. You cannot really use them when the target is anywhere near your own forces.

They might be considered usable on airbases, on Murmansk port and such - but not so much on land forces in the field. And even their usability is diminished by their power; such a seriously-sized nuclear strike could trigger a panic and a devastating nuclear war.

 

And then there's the issue that you shouldn't destroy what you purport to defend.

 

The German Luftwaffe would not drop B61s unless the world's practically gone already anyway, and then there'd be no utility to it.

 

 

The B61 issue should be considered a non-issue for the Luftwaffe. I think it's misused as a faux argument by people who want the F-35 for altogether different reasons.

 

You are making the classic error of thinking of Nuclear Weapons in light of their battlefield use. From the Russian perspective, they have seemingly far more political value than that. If the Russians ever used one, it wouldn't be to achieve a battlefield effect, it would be to achieve a political one. Hence the whole concept (which they now seemingly reject publicly) of deescalatory strikes.

 

Whether a combat aircraft is the best method of applying a nuclear weapon as a retaliatory strike is another matter. But one must not write off TNF as useless just because they have small yields. Thats the entire point. If Russia used a 500kt weapon on our troops, and we used a dinky 10 kt one on theirs, the lower yieldage is irrelevant. The point is dropping a tactical weapons are being used, and the political signalling that implies.

 

Personally I think if a single one was used, we would all be going to hell anyway. But no reason to make the rubble fly further than it needs to imho. Germany should have dual key weapons. So, more importantly, should Poland. If an exchange started there is no reason to think Germany wouldnt be hit, particularly as they have USAF units based there.

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Aside from politics, is there any real need for the Luftwaffe to continue with the B-61 mission? I would have thought that would have went away along with the Cold War.

 

It has long been pointed out that no likely target is in range of nuclear missions from Germany anymore (though obviously that's disregarding air refueling). At one point or other, every German political party has demanded or at least agreed to demands of getting the last nukes out of the country; for some time the tacit suggestion was that after Tornado, there would be no certified carrier anyway, obviating the need for an active decision.

 

Like so much else, that changed after the Ukrainian crisis of 2014. Practicality aside, the ultimate reason for continued German participation in NATO's nuclear sharing scheme is that it is linked with membership in the alliance's Nuclear Planning Group which sets its nuclear weapons policy. Getting out means leaving the shape of that policy to others, which looks more unadvisable the more unpredictable European and international security affairs become.

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You are making the classic error of thinking of Nuclear Weapons in light of their battlefield use. From the Russian perspective, they have seemingly far more political value than that. If the Russians ever used one, it wouldn't be to achieve a battlefield effect, it would be to achieve a political one. Hence the whole concept (which they now seemingly reject publicly) of deescalatory strikes.

 

Whether a combat aircraft is the best method of applying a nuclear weapon as a retaliatory strike is another matter. But one must not write off TNF as useless just because they have small yields. Thats the entire point. If Russia used a 500kt weapon on our troops, and we used a dinky 10 kt one on theirs, the lower yieldage is irrelevant. The point is dropping a tactical weapons are being used, and the political signalling that implies.

 

Personally I think if a single one was used, we would all be going to hell anyway. But no reason to make the rubble fly further than it needs to imho. Germany should have dual key weapons. So, more importantly, should Poland. If an exchange started there is no reason to think Germany wouldnt be hit, particularly as they have USAF units based there.

I suppose my record immunizes me against such a charge.

 

The Russians may use nukes that way, but regarding Western forces I don't think that any other nuke use save for purely against naval targets at sea would be considered for such 'political' purposes.

And you would not want to use a free fall or glide nuke to sink a Russian warship.

Question is whether the Russians would send their surface fleet out at all. We could hardly strike at Murmansk port for 'political messaging', for that would look like an attempt to take away 2nd strike capability and cause a panic.

 

It might make sense for the Russians to use such signalling, but not for NATO.

 

 

BTW, as I understand nukes, the yield may be selectable on some types, but the choice of a small yield means roughly the same if not worse fallout as with the high yield. B61 supposedly has a wide range of yields (exact figures are unknown), and the low settings may very well be very dirty.

 

 

 

Practicality aside, the ultimate reason for continued German participation in NATO's nuclear sharing scheme is that it is linked with membership in the alliance's Nuclear Planning Group which sets its nuclear weapons policy. Getting out means leaving the shape of that policy to others, which looks more unadvisable the more unpredictable European and international security affairs become.

 

NO, that's a MYTH. It's what I referred to earlier as false arguments. Again, HERE is the link. Also, NATO agrees with me:

 

 

All members, with the exception of France which has decided not to participate, are part of the NPG irrespective of whether or not they themselves maintain nuclear weapons.

Even Luxembourg and demilitarised Iceland are part of that Nuclear Planning Group.

 

On top of that, with Trump in the Oval office the whole NPG is pointless for the time being (the UK has reduced itself to doomsday nuclear posture without tac nukes).

 

I've seen people bringing the NPG "argument" pro B-61 in Germany and pro F-35 in newspapers. They are either ignorant or liars.

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Well, the French ASMP-A missile would be en route for no more than 7 1/2 minutes. SRBMs would be en route for even less minutes.

I suppose the theoretical ability to recall a manned aircraft that's been sent en route after a nuclear delivery authorisation process that took hours if not days doesn't really matter much during those up to 7.5 minutes.

 

Also, ask Rotterdam about its opinion on the ability to recall manned bombers.

 

The "we can recall a bomber" argument was already deceptive with B-52s during the 70's. An ICBM is en route for 30 minutes or so. A B-52 would spend a lot more time between last opportunity to recall and the nuclear explosion.

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It doesn't make much practical sense for Germany to have B-612. But it make absolute sense to over them to the Poles. In fact I'd use that stick to push the Russians back into INF compliance if it were my circus and monkeys.

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