Europe: The United States has been pacing up the delivery of upgraded nuclear weapons to Europe as tensions with Russia rise. As per the reports, the US officials have informed NATO allies, during a closed-door meeting in Brussels that was held earlier in October, about the early delivery of the B61-12 thermonuclear bomb in December 2022, which was earlier scheduled for next year.
The newly upgraded and highly accurate version of the B61-12 bombs would replace the older weapons that NATO countries hold, including Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Turkey.
Moreover, the administration of the US President, Joe Biden, has included the United Kingdom in the list of the countries that would be authorised to store the nukes from the United States.
Earlier, the US Air Force(USAF) housed those nuclear gravity bombs at RAF, Lakenheath, near the village of Lakenheath, Suffolk, UK. The village, in the 1990s had nearly 33 underground vaults. The bunkers that had been abandoned in 2008 are again being eyed by US.
The sites for storing weapons in the NATO countries have been upgraded as a part of a 13-year NATO investment program to ensure the storage of new B61-12 bombs.
The B61-12 is the latest variant of B61 air-launched nuclear gravity bombs that aims to strengthen the nuclear capabilities of the United States as well as its allied nations. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) informed us about the completion of production of the first unit of B61-12 in December 2021.
The project is expected to cost around $8.4 billion and will be completed by the year 2026.
According to the sources, the first unit of B61-12 bombs was expected to be delivered to Europe in 2023, but the new timeline suggests that Pentagon is preparing to deliver them before the plans.
The Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Hans Kristensen, stated that the Defense Department (DoD) Inspector General would be completing a review of the weapon’s performance before the beginning of training for aircrews.