Germany Signs Contract to Purchase F-35s That Can Carry US Nuclear Warheads

The US stores about 20 warheads in Germany as part of NATO's nuclear sharing program, and Berlin maintains a bomber fleet that can carry them

Germany on Wednesday signed a contract with the US to purchase dozens of Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets, which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads that the US keeps in Germany.

There are about 20 US B-61 nuclear gravity bombs stored in Germany under NATO’s nuclear sharing program. While Germany has no nuclear weapons of its own, it maintains a fleet of aging Tornado bombers capable of dropping them, which the F-35s will replace.

“The German F-35 program will ensure the continuation of Germany’s alliance commitments and guarantee NATO’s credible deterrence in the future,” the US Embassy in Berlin said in a statement.

Germany announced its intention to purchase the F-35s back in March as part of a plan to boost military spending. Germany will acquire 35 of the fighter jets in a deal worth about $10.5 billion, and they are expected to be delivered between 2026 and 2029. The F-35s are be scheduled to replace the Tornados in the nuclear-sharing mission in 2030.

Under NATO’s nuclear sharing program, the US keeps nuclear warheads in Germany, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. There are currently no known nuclear weapons in countries that joined NATO after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but Poland is open to hosting them and has held discussions with the US about the issue.

Finnish leaders have said they wouldn’t rule out hosting NATO nuclear weapons if they join the alliance, which would be a major provocation as Finland shares an over 800-mile border with Russia. But Finland’s president has since assured that the country has no plans to host nukes and that there are “no signs” NATO would look to deploy them there.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.