The coalition supporting the new German government wanted to reaffirm Germany's full adherence to NATO's nuclear planning. A necessary act given the increasingly close relations that Berlin has with the Russian Federation.
Such membership means that the Luftwaffe must be ready to deploy the new B-61-12 tactical nuclear bombs.
Until now, the air carriers used to transport nuclear devices have been fighter-bombers Tornado IDS. These are now obsolete machines and, in 2017, the Merkel government decided to replace the Tornado with a new fighter. Probably due to pressure from the French, Berlin opted not to join the F-35 program.
In March 2020, the German Ministry of Defense announced plans to purchase 30 Super Hornet F / A-18F and 15 Growler E / A-18 (for their SEAD capabilities - Suppression of Enemy Air Defense).
However, this choice was not explicitly confirmed in the new governing coalition's agreement, merely indicating that the Tornado would be replaced.
Christine Lambrecht, the new German Defense Minister, reiterated this during a visit to Taktischen Luftwaffengeschwader 73 (equipped with Euro Fighter), based in Rostock, last December 16. Adding that the Tornado will no longer be operational in the Luftwaffe departments starting from 2030. The choice of the F / A-18F would therefore seem obligatory.
Except that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the body under the Department of Energy, which deals with the stocks of American nuclear weapons, has published, last November, an information update that specifies the types of aircraft to be certified in the near future to carry the latest version of the B-61 (the B-61-12). The Tornado is obviously present, like the F-15, the F-16, the B-2 "Spirit", the B-21 Raider and the F-35, but not the F / A-18F Super Hornet.
This is because theHornet was born as a US Navy aircraft and the Navy has discontinued the use of B-61 bombs aboard aircraft carriers since 1994.
On balance, the new German executive could return to the F-35 in place of the Super Hornet. The Lockheed Martin aircraft will soon receive certification to carry the new B-61-12, with power ranging from 0,3 to 50 kt.
Photo: US Air Force