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Luftwaffe Hornets?


Dawes

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I have heard the SuperHornet is not nuclear certified as the USN no longer carries nuclear weapons on carriers.

 

Yes, but the US made clear that they "can" certify the Hornet for nukes before the Tornados will fall apart (2025...28), and that they "can't" certify the Eurofighter until a few years after (before 2033). If the Tornados are retired before there is a replacement, the Luftwaffe will lose the nuclear capability which is preserved exclusively for political reasons. Since Germany doesn't own nukes, the only point about that capability is of political nature. Should Germany ever decide to agree to a nuclear strike, Germany doesn't care about the pilot's safe return. To that extent strike sortie survivability is a distant secondary goal. Likewise, Germany is neither eager to drop nukes nor does it expect the necessity in the current operational environment. It's all about strategic deterrence, nothing else. But as soon as that capability is gone, no matter how tenuous it currently is, the question is whether Germany can negotiate itself into the same position again (unlikely).

This is what gives the US leverage. If Germany wants to keep having a say in the employment of nuclear weapons stored on German bases, it needs a nuke certified aircraft before the only one that's currently fielded (MRCA Tornado) gets retired. And retirement - voluntary or forced - is approaching rapidly.

 

The capability of the delivery platform is also of secondary importance, as long as it fulfills the demands of credible deterrence. Therefore F-15 wil "not be 'it' ". F/A-18 is cheap enough to meet the fundamental requirements. That's all. But if the decision in favor of the Hornet is made, this could open the door for F-35 acquisition. And if that happens, military Airbus is finished.

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Lay down nuclear weapons are obsolete, why is this even a requirement?

 

The B-61 Mod12 is not a simple laydown weapon, it's more like a nuclear JDAM.

 

I know, but you are still going to have to penetrate enemy airspace to deliver it. I doubt if you penetrate at low altitude I strongly doubt you are going to be able to loft it more than 15-20 miles. And even if you do, the bomb remains potentially vulnerable to Russian air defence systems like S400.

 

Unless you have a stealthy shape for the bomb, or a weapon that can penetrate to the target at low altitude without any kind of pop up, they may as just wire the aircraft into the bomb and get the pilot to detonate it, because they aren't coming back. They are trying to replicate what they had in the 1980's, which is ridiculous, because even in the 1980's the air defence threat made it look dicey. It looks postively suicidal now.

 

If they want a nuclear weapon that can penetrate to the target, modify the submarines so they can jump onboard the programme the USN is putting in place to have nuclear capable cruise missiles, ala TLAM/N. The configuration they are choosing makes no sense whatsoever. If they want a conventional bomber, buy the same Typhoons we did that can carry storm shadow and Brimstone.

Edited by Stuart Galbraith
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The main issue is almost certainly going to be integration of the nuclear key system. That won't happen with Eurofighter because it would likely require too much knowledge transfer.

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Older versions of B61 seem to be armed on the ground, so that shouldnt be the problem. The problem seems to be that the latest version is the Mod 12 using GPS, makes it incompatible even with the Tornado. So you need the aircraft to interface with the bomb to program the GPS, but not to arm it. Ive no idea if the GPS system is compatible with aircraft that are capable of using JDAM, one would hope someone in the DOD would see the sense of that, but I wouldnt count on it.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B61_nuclear_bomb

'F-16 and Panavia Tornado aircraft cannot interface with the new bomb due to electronic differences, but NATO countries buying the F-35 would be able to utilize it.[35] The first flight test for an inert Mod 12 was conducted in 2015, with a second successful test in August 2017.[36][30]'

 

At this point you have to ask what the point was in making it GPS when all it did was make it incompatible with most existing NATO aircraft? Unless that was the point.

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The US has another nuke system on the way - the Long Range Standoff Weapon. Although it will supposedly use the older W80 warhead.

 

If fact, if the START treaty is allowed to expire next year, the way is open for unrestrained strategic weapons development.

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The problem could be that the US simply wont want to invest in a replacement for B61. Its a legacy system, so no skin off their nose if they keep upgrading it. The outlay and the organization to put into service a new tactical system for NATO, I dont believe under the present economic environment is there. In fact, I have to question if they are even going to qualify the F18 unless Germany pays for it. So if the LRSW does happen, the place its most likely to be going is the pacific.

 

On the face of it, it really doesnt strike me as worth bothering for Germany. To continue to use a dual key weapon they will never use? They may as well modify Typhoon as a long range strike system and stop pretending they will ever use it for anything else.

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At this point you have to ask what the point was in making it GPS when all it did was make it incompatible with most existing NATO aircraft? Unless that was the point.

 

The B61 Mod 12 won't just be for NATO tactical aircraft, it will also be the main nuclear gravity bomb for US stealth platforms. It gives the US the capability to put a highly accurate and extremely low-yield (down to 0.3 kt) nuke on hardened targets (think Iran, North Korea).

 

This is also why nuclear arms control types find it a destabilizing weapon, because it potentially lowers the threshold for nuclear use in certain scenarios.

 

 

On the face of it, it really doesnt strike me as worth bothering for Germany. To continue to use a dual key weapon they will never use? They may as well modify Typhoon as a long range strike system and stop pretending they will ever use it for anything else.

 

For Germany, nuclear sharing is strictly a matter of the political status quo. Many parties have wanted to get rid of it, but no one bothered to risk the foreign policy fallout with NATO and the US. So they are getting the cheapest possible platform for it.

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For stealth platforms, yes. But that is hardly going to work for an F18E. I wouldnt want to perform that role with anything less than a F35.

 

I dont have a problem with nuclear sharing. I just have a problem with nuclear sharing as gesture only, rather than as a practice that might actually work.

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Maybe, but it won't arrive before the Tornado gets retired. It's the gap between "no more Tornados" and "new nuke certified platform" that Berlin wants to avoid at virtually any cost.

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I dont know why they dont try and get the French to donate some of their tactical nuclear stockpile to the NATO stockpile, and go and buy some Rafale F3's. If they wont buy F35, its the next best solution to the problem (and increases the NATO nuclear stockpile which is no bad thing)

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For stealth platforms, yes. But that is hardly going to work for an F18E. I wouldnt want to perform that role with anything less than a F35.

 

I dont have a problem with nuclear sharing. I just have a problem with nuclear sharing as gesture only, rather than as a practice that might actually work.

 

I can assure you, with the German military, things aren't exactly meant to "work" a lot of the time. :D

 

I dont know why they dont try and get the French to donate some of their tactical nuclear stockpile to the NATO stockpile, and go and buy some Rafale F3's. If they wont buy F35, its the next best solution to the problem (and increases the NATO nuclear stockpile which is no bad thing)

 

The goal is to get an update for the nuclear sharing arrangement with the US at the cheapest possible cost and with as little political debate as possible. That's all. Just so you can put a checkmark into the form that gets sent to NATO declaring a nuclear capability.

Nobody in Germany cares about nukes. We like them quietly sitting in their vaults at Büchel, never to be talked about.

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Why not go French?

Because we want to stay under the US nuclear umbrella. And it's doubtful France would be willing to share its nuclear weapons. Plus, France can't sell their bombs plutoniques because, Non-Proliferation Treaty. Just like the current ones in Büchel are owned by the US; Germany provides but a delivery platform.

 

I'm with you, Stuart, that if we do it, we need to do it in a way that creates credible deterrence, and the F/A-18 is probably not "it". Once more Germany is between a rock and a hard place because our leaders refuse to deal with an important question in a timely fashion. Their sense for Germany's precarious strategic situation is severely underdeveloped.

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No, I dont suggest France sell Germany its bombs, I just suggest the French commit at least part of their tactical stockpile to the NATO stockpile. If the Germans commit to use that, then they have the wiring already done in the F3, which the French use for the same role.

 

Or, a crazier idea, if rather cheaper, the Germans pay for the French to buy more aircraft, and the Germans supply the Pilots and base them in France, again under NATO (perhaps the same system under which we operated the QRA). The French get more planes, the Germans have a hand in the nuclear deterrence role. Everyone (other than Boeing) is happy.

 

I dont think it would be hard for the French to do. Lets not forget the British nuclear deterrent is dual hatted under NATO, or at least, certainly was during the cold war. It was really just a caveat so the Yanks could say by selling us Polaris and Trident, they were enhancing NATO's nuclear posture, but whatever argument used, it did actually happen.

 

Of course in this juncture, the difficult bit is convincing the French not to be so damn French. I can offer no pointers on this other than to smile a lot and tell Macron how smart he is, time and again. it seemed to work for Boris.

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No, I dont suggest France sell Germany its bombs, I just suggest the French commit at least part of their tactical stockpile to the NATO stockpile.

 

LOL, they left NATO over this.

 

 

Or, a crazier idea, if rather cheaper, the Germans pay for the French to buy more aircraft, and the Germans supply the Pilots and base them in France, again under NATO

 

Stop making sense!

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It does illustrate that the precariousness of Germany's strategic situation is based on the precariousness of its interpretation of NPT adherence. Thrift taken to the extreme would be wanting benefits of nuclear deterrence without shouldering the various responsibilities of it.

 

Disagree regarding the Tornado option if the Luftwaffe continues to operate a reduced number of them in nothing but the manned nuclear delivery mission.

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Are treaty limitations a roadblock to Germany developing a nuclear ALCM or GLCM? I suppose even if they weren't, popular opposition would be overwhelming. The US might be persuaded to provide a few W80's.

Edited by Dawes
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The problem with GLCM, you invite just the kind of protests we had back in the 1980s with GLCM and Pershing. Nobody is going to touch GLCM with a bargepole.

 

ALCM is a bit more doable. But inevitably you are going to be having the French taking the lead on it, and they have some decidedly confused ideas about NATO and what they now want to defend Europe.

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