The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has advised the US defence secretary, Leon Panetta, to stop funding the US Air Force’s (USAF) B61 nuclear bombs in Europe to help save more than $2bn.

The US defence secretary has recently unveiled the defence budget will be cut by over $487bn by eliminating nearly 100,000 ground troops whilst also mothballing ships to create a smaller, agile force with a new strategic focus.

In a letter as a response to the Panetta defence budget plan, POGO executive director, Danielle Brian, stated: "Given the magnitude of US fiscal concerns, continuing to spend billions of dollars on weapons whose military efficacy is questionable at best and whose security is not assured is not justifiable."

The independent watchdog in its report, Spending Less Spending Smarter, stated that taxpayers will save more than $2.1bn for the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) budget plan over the next decade if Nato members funded the Life Extension Programme (LEP), otherwise the US has to scrap the bombs.

About 200 B61 nuclear bombs have been deployed in Turkey, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Germany by the USAF as a part of Nato’s defence during the Cold War as a bastion against the Soviet Union.

POGO also pointed to a particular case wherein the US B61 bombs in Incirlik, Turkey are stored for delivery by US aircraft but USAF does not have a fighter wing deployed at the base while the Turkish aircrafts are not certified to carry out a nuclear mission.

Brian concluded by saying: "If US and European leaders really believe these nuclear weapons can be useful as a deterrent…European members must agree to bear an increased share of the costs."