Britain set to house US fighter jets capable of dropping nuclear bombs

F35A Lightning II

F35A Lightning II

Oliver Trapnell

By Oliver Trapnell

Published: 31/08/2023

- 14:42

Official documents also suggest that the US could be looking to place nuclear weapons on British soil

US fighter jets capable of launching nuclear weapons could be placed in the UK before the end of the year.

Two squadrons of F-35 As are understood to have been deployed from the US and will arrive in the UK within weeks.

The jets are designed to carry out tactical nuclear bombing but can also be used for intelligence gathering and air-to-air missions.

“F-35s will be based there,” a defence source told The Telegraph.

Protests at RAF LakenheathAn RAF base has been named as a possible location to station US nuclear weapons, official documents suggestPA

“They have deployed and will be moving in at the end of this year, if not sometime in 2024.”

The advanced fighter jets are tipped to be placed at the US-rented RAF Lakenheath.

F-35s are more advanced than the F-15s currently housed at the Suffolk RAF base.

However, the F15s were also capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

RAF LakenheathThe US Air Force (USAF) has secured funding for a new facility at RAF Lakenheath in SuffolkReuters

“It’s a newer, more capable aircraft, which has a longer range and stealth, which is crucial if you are going to use them to accurately drop nuclear bombs,” the source said.

Placement of the jets at the RAF base comes after official documents were submitted to US Congress suggesting that nuclear warheads could be placed on British soil.

Congress received a budgetary request for $50million (£39.5million) from the US Air Force for a “surety dormitory” - terminology used in US military circles to refer to nuclear weapons - at the RAF base.

RAF Lakenheath was used previously to house nuclear bombs during the height of the Cold War but they were all removed in 2008 when it was believed the prospect of nuclear war was reduced.

USAF F15 jet lands at RAF Lakenheath

USAF F15 jet lands at RAF Lakenheath


The MoD and No10 have refused to comment on whether US warheads had or would be deployed to the UK.

Plans to place nuclear weapons at the base sparked anger with campaign groups, with Kate Hudson, General Secretary for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) saying: “It's increasingly clear that Lakenheath is once again a vital cog in Washington's overseas nuclear machine.

“The deployment of the new B61-12 (gravity bombs) to Europe undermines any prospects for global peace and ensures Britain will be a target in a nuclear conflict between the US/Nato and Russia.

“It's beyond irresponsible that the UK Government is allowing this deployment.”

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