Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

Nuclear

  1. Is the F-35 a nuclear bomber?


Yes. It has been listed as such in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. In that document it is labeled a dual-capable aircraft, which means it can carry both nuclear and conventional weapons. A new nuclear gravity bomb, the B61-12, is being developed specifically to fit the F-35 bomb bay.




What is the difference between an aircraft having a nuclear capability and having a nuclear role?


Capability refers to whether the aircraft has the necessary infrastructure to accommodate nuclear weapons. Role refers to whether the aircraft has the mission, or the requirement, to deploy nuclear weapons if so ordered.




Will the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35s be nuclear capable?


Unknown. The F-35 models currently planned for Vermont do not appear to yet have nuclear wiring. However, most, if not all, F-35s may eventually be upgraded to have a nuclear capability.




Will we know if and when the military decides to give Vermont’s F-35s a nuclear capability and a nuclear mission?


Unlikely. Should this happen, it is unlikely that it will be made public, as it is probably classified information. In the 1960’s the Vermont Air Guard carried nuclear weapons and the public was unaware of this capability and role.




Will the Vermont Air National Guard carry nuclear bombs?


Unknown. This will likely be classified information, and would not be made public.




Will nuclear bombs be stored in Vermont?


Unknown. This will likely be classified information, and thus would not be made public. However, in the past, the nuclear weapons for the Vermont Air Guard’s F-89s were most likely stored in Burlington.




Were the Vermont Air Guard to initiate a nuclear attack with their F-35s, would the location of their nuclear bombs be important?


No. If the Vermont Air Guard were directed to conduct a nuclear first strike with their F-35s, they would have the time to upload the nuclear bombs regardless of where they are stored.




Is the storage location of nuclear bombs an important factor in being a target?


No. Generally, the enemy targets the delivery vehicle —the F-35— not the bombs.




Why would Senators Leahy and Sanders, and Representative Welsh support the basing of a nuclear bomber in Vermont?


Unknown. It is possible they were unaware of the F-35s nuclear capability and role, since the Air Force did not mention this in the 2012-2013 Environmental Impact Statement. The F-35s nuclear capability and mission were revealed to the public in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review




Is the Vermont Guard a nuclear target now?


No. The Vermont Air National Guard is not a nuclear target, since the F-16s pose no nuclear threat to our enemies.




Will the Vermont Guard be a nuclear target if F-35s are based at the Vermont Air Guard?


Probably. Since the Pentagon has announced that the F-35 will have both nuclear capability and a nuclear mission, there is a high probability that the Vermont Air Guard and the Burlington airport will become a nuclear target once the F-35s are based there. Strategic nuclear planners target delivery vehicles, i.e., the aircraft not the bombs. Therefore, there is a high probability that all F-35 bases will become nuclear targets.




Has the Vermont Air Guard ever carried nuclear weapons before?


Yes. The Vermont Air Guard’s F-89s carried nuclear weapons. They carried the AIR-2 Genie nuclear tipped air-to-air missiles.




Do we have a say in the basing of the F-35 nuclear bomber in Vermont?


Yes. The Air Force actively solicited the public’s views on the basing. Were the Governor, or the Vermont legislators, and/or the Congressional delegation to request an aircraft change, the Air Force would likely comply.




Can we stop the basing of F-35 nuclear bombers in Vermont?


Yes. People in other U.S. states have stopped military aircraft basing actions.




What are the chances of Vermont being part of a nuclear exchange?


Likely, especially if F-35s are used in a first strike nuclear attack.





Jobs & The Economy

Will jobs be lost or the economy harmed if the F-35 is not based with the Vermont Air Guard?


No. The Air Force assured the public in their Environmental Impact Statement and in written responses, that Vermont’s Air Guard would be assigned another mission, to include a flying mission, if the F-35s were not based in Vermont. Other missions have the potential to increase the number of VT Air Guard jobs.




Will the F-35 bring any additional jobs or benefit the economy?


No. The Air Force stated in their Environmental Impact Statement that the F-35 would bring no new jobs. In fact, Vermont Adjutant General Dubie said that the Vermont Air Guard might lose some maintainer jobs if the F-35 replaces the F-16.





Environmental Impact

Will the F-35 cause harm to the Burlington area?


Yes. The Air Force reported that most of the fifteen areas evaluated under the U.S. Environmental policies, would be negatively impacted by the F-35. The areas negatively impacted include air quality, land use, socioeconomics, environmental justice, protection of children, noise, community facilities, public services, ground traffic and transportation, climate change, cumulative effects and the irreversible commitment of resources.





Vermont National Guard Future

Will the entire Vermont National Guard, including the Vermont Army Guard, close down if the F-35 is not based in Vermont?


No. The Vermont Army Guard is not affected by Air Guard missions.




Will the Vermont Air Guard close down if the F-35 is not based with it?


No. Every U.S. state has an Air Guard with a mission. Vermont’s Air Guard would be assigned another mission.




Will the Vermont Air Guard lose a flying mission if the F-35 is not based in Vermont?


Uncertain. The Air Force stated in their 2012-2013 Environmental Impact Statement that “…if there is no F-35 operational basing at Burlington AGS the current mission would continue.” The Air Force Secretary reiterated that in 2016 court documents stating, “…it expected Burlington to continue to fly military aircraft if it was not selected to host the F-35A.” In 2018, Air Force Secretary Wilson contradicted this by writing in a letter to the mayor of Burlington that if the F-35 basing “…decision were to be reversed, the Vermont Air National Guard would likely lose their flying mission upon the retirement of the F-16s.” However, Vermont’s powerful Congressional Senators could request another flying mission for Vermont’s Air Guard. And, it is likely they will be successful just as Senators in other U.S. states are when they request specific military missions for their Guard units.





© 2023 by Citizens Against Nuclear Bombers In Vermont