Several sources cite that the F-35 will be able to be modified or simply equipped to carry some variant of the B-61 nuclear bomb. However, I know that most strike aircraft such as the F-15 Strike Eagle seat two crew as so for nuclear weapons there must be confirmation of arming the weapon by both crew members. No variant of the F-35 seats two, so I assume that there must be some way of having two-factor authorization of this protocol anyways. Is there a publicly known practice of arming nuclear devices on the F-35 or any other single seat aircraft or were the sources stating it could deliver the B-61 incorrect?
Traditionally many single seater aircraft have had nuclear weapons capabilities.
To name a few:
- A-7 (I think)
This list isn't exhaustive. The release of the weapon will typically be authorised before takeoff, the pilot then having the electronics on board to enter the final arming codes that will bring the weapon life. I'm not in the know about the exact procedures here, but my guess is someone on the ground acts as the first of the two keys before the flight starts, and the pilot entering his codes into the arming console during the flight acts as the second. This is far more reliable and less error prone than having the code transmitted to the weapon during flight over a radio link which may be jammed, detected, or simply not work in a nuclear war scenario.