Project E
Project E was a joint project between the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 during the cold war
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 to provide nuclear weapons to the British Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) prior to Britain's own nuclear weapons becoming available. Later sometimes used more widely to refer to similar arrangements for the British Army of the Rhine
British Army of the Rhine
There have been two formations named British Army of the Rhine . Both were originally occupation forces in Germany, one after the First World War, and the other after the Second World War.-1919–1929:...


The first record of this project was in 1958 concerning the provision of Mk 7
Mark 7 nuclear bomb
Mark 7 "Thor" was the first tactical nuclear bomb adopted by US armed forces. It was also the first weapon to be delivered using the toss method with the help of the low-altitude bombing system . The weapon was tested in Operation Buster-Jangle. To facilitate external carry by fighter bomber...

 weapons to be carried by the Canberra
English Electric Canberra
The English Electric Canberra is a first-generation jet-powered light bomber manufactured in large numbers through the 1950s. The Canberra could fly at a higher altitude than any other bomber through the 1950s and set a world altitude record of 70,310 ft in 1957...


Later, Mk 5
Mark 5 nuclear bomb
The Mark 5 nuclear bomb and W5 nuclear warhead were a common core nuclear weapon design, designed in the early 1950s and which saw service from 1952 to 1963....

 weapons were provided for the V-Bomber force. This provision was problematic for the RAF since United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 (USAF) personnel had guardianship of these weapons at all times and they could not be dispersed to dispersal airfields as the RAF desired. As a result the weapons were returned to the United States as soon as possible when British-made nuclear and thermonuclear weapons became available.
In the United Kingdom, Project E came to an end in 1965, while in forces assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization it lasted until 1969. It was replaced by the NATO nuclear sharing
Nuclear sharing
Nuclear sharing is a concept in NATO's policy of nuclear deterrence, which involves member countries without nuclear weapons of their own in the planning for the use of nuclear weapons by NATO, and in particular provides for the armed forces of these countries to be involved in delivering these...

 concept for tactical nuclear weapon
Tactical nuclear weapon
A tactical nuclear weapon refers to a nuclear weapon which is designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations. This is as opposed to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to menace large populations, to damage the enemy's ability to wage war, or for general deterrence...

s, which, for example, included the provision of B57
B57 nuclear bomb
The B57 nuclear bomb was a tactical nuclear weapon developed by the United States during the Cold War.Entering production in 1963 as the Mk 57, the bomb was designed to be dropped from high-speed tactical aircraft. It had a streamlined casing to withstand supersonic flight. It was 3 m long, with a...

 nuclear depth bomb
Nuclear Depth Bomb
A Nuclear Depth Bomb is the nuclear equivalent of the conventional depth charge and can be used in Anti-Submarine Warfare for attacking submerged submarines...

s for the Avro Shackleton
Avro Shackleton
The Avro Shackleton was a British long-range maritime patrol aircraft for use by the Royal Air Force. It was developed by Avro from the Avro Lincoln bomber with a new fuselage...

 and Hawker Siddeley Nimrod until 1992.

A note by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 quoted him as saying:
"The United States Government welcomes the agreement to coordinate the strike plans of the United States and United Kingdom bomber forces, and to store United States nuclear weapons on RAF airfields under United States custody for release subject to decision by the President in an emergency. We understand that for the present at least these weapons will be in the kiloton range. The United Kingdom forces could obviously play a much more effective part in joint strikes if the United States weapons made available to them in emergency were in the megaton range, and it is suggested that this possibility might be examined at the appropriate time."

To this purpose, discussions were held around the use of Mk 15
Mark 15 nuclear bomb
The Mark 15 nuclear bomb, or Mk-15, was a 1950s American thermonuclear bomb, the first relatively lightweight thermonuclear bomb created by the United States....

 thermonuclear weapons but no evidence of these actually being carried on British V-Bombers exists.

It should also be noted that when Valiant
Vickers Valiant
The Vickers-Armstrongs Valiant was a British four-jet bomber, once part of the Royal Air Force's V bomber nuclear force in the 1950s and 1960s...

 aircraft were allocated to SACEUR in 1960 they carried either B28
B28 nuclear bomb
The B28, originally Mark 28, was a thermonuclear bomb carried by U.S. tactical fighter bombers and bomber aircraft. From 1962 to 1972 under the NATO nuclear weapons sharing program, American B28s also equipped six Europe-based Canadian CF-104 squadrons known as the RCAF Nuclear Strike Force...

 or B43
B43 nuclear bomb
The B43 was a United States air-dropped variable yield nuclear weapon used by a wide variety of fighter bomber and bomber aircraft.The B43 was developed from 1956 by Los Alamos National Laboratory, entering production in 1959. It entered service in April 1961. Total production was 2,000 weapons,...

 thermonuclear weapons. When co-located with non SACEUR squadrons the SACEUR squadrons were often fenced off with six foot fences on the QRA pads. These were allowed to be carried by the RAF under control of SACEUR on the same basis as Project E weapons carried by the RAF, i.e. U.S. guardians present at all times. This of course came to an end when all the Valiants were grounded on 9 December 1964. The B28 bomb later became famous as a result of the Palomares incident in 1966.

See also

  • Project Emily
    Project Emily
    Project Emily was the deployment of American-built PGM-17 Thor Intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the United Kingdom between 1959 and 1963....

  • 1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement
    1958 US-UK Mutual Defence Agreement
    The 1958 US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement is a bilateral treaty between the United States and the United Kingdom on nuclear weapons cooperation.It was signed after the UK successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb during Operation Grapple. While the U.S...

  • Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom
    Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom was the third country to test an independently developed nuclear weapon, in October 1952. It is one of the five "Nuclear Weapons States" under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the UK ratified in 1968...

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