Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko introduced on August 26 that his nation’s fight jets had been modified to deploy nuclear weapons, with accompanying stories from Reuters and different Western sources indicating that its Su-24M strike fighters might have been recommissioned for this function. The announcement comes amid excessive tensions between Minsk and the Western world, and follows warnings by Lukashenko in December 2021 that his nation retained Soviet constructed nuclear weapons infrastructure on its territory and will rapidly host Russian strategic weapons. Whereas Belarus just isn’t a nuclear weapons state, it may effectively be concerned in a nuclear sharing settlement with Russia a lot as a number of NATO member states corresponding to Germany and Belgium are anticipated to make use of American nuclear warheads within the case of warfare. Though Belarus just lately acquired 12 Su-30SM heavyweight fighters from Russia, that are fielded alongside two squadrons of conservatively modernised Soviet constructed MiG-29s, the MiGs should not effectively optimised for a nuclear strike position whereas their heavier counterparts, being few in quantity, could be stretched very thinly if relied on for such roles alongside their present air superiority and traditional strike missions.
Belarus was estimated to subject 42 Su-24s in 1995, though 12 of those have been subsequently offered to Sudan the place they serve right now. Having been retired from 2010-2012, alongside Su-27 air superiority fighters as measures to cut back the fleet’s operational prices, the power to revive the plane for service after many years in storage stays questionable. It’s probably extra doubtless that Russia may ship its personal just lately retired however extra modernised Su-24Ms as support ought to Belarus search to revive a devoted strike fighter unit, with effectively over 100 having left the Russian Air Drive previously decade alone.
Other than the Su-24 Belarus beforehand fielded an general extra succesful and distinctive strike fighter class which, attributable to its very excessive operational prices, noticed solely round 40 constructed for the Soviet Air Drive all of which have been primarily based on Belarusian territory. The MiG-25BM was the final variant of the MiG-25 Foxbat ever constructed, and capitalised on the category’ excessive Mach 3+ velocity, unrivalled operational altitude and lengthy vary as a strike platform optimised for air defence suppression. Reportedly fight examined in opposition to Iran within the Nineteen Eighties, the plane deployed superior digital warfare gear and a spread of cruise missiles. It represents a singular form of asset which each Russia and Belarus lack right now – similar to the U.S. Navy’s E/A-18G or the Chinese language J-16D. With Belarus having scrapped its MiG-25BM fleet, nonetheless, leaving solely a small quantity in museum storage, resurrecting this functionality will probably be much more tough than the Su-24. The first query stays whether or not the nation can afford the excessive operational prices of a brand new devoted strike fighter class, or whether or not far much less ideally it is going to be compelled to combine nuclear weapons onto its Su-30s, MiG-29s, or probably even its Su-25 floor assault jets.