After the rumors, which we reported last week, confirmation comes: Germany will purchase up to 35 examples of the American and Italian-made fifth-generation Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fighter jet, backing off complete on what had always been decided by Berlin, which pursued the choice of a – still non-existent – European production. The airplanes will be operational by 2030 and will give Germany the ability to carry nuclear weapons by disposing of the obsolete Tornadoes under the Luftwaffe. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said this during a joint statement with the Air Force Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz.
The decision therefore confirms that Germany will continue to supply aircraft suitable for the transport of US nuclear weapons stored in the country, as required by NATO rules. Previously, officials were planning to purchase new versions of the F / A-18 Super Hornet, which in addition to nuclear transport capabilities have weapons on board for electronic attack and suppression of enemy air defenses.
The decision to replace the Tornado, which had been talked about in Berlin for at least ten years, removes the Super Hornet from the options altogether, instead placing the modernized versions of the Eurofighter in that role. This decision is advantageous both for Italy, which in Cameri (NO) owns the Faco di Leonardo plant, the only one in Europe for the assembly of F-35s, and will also satisfy Airbus, which in any case builds some parts and has always proposed the Eurofighter evolutionary platform to create the Franco-German-Spanish Future Combat Air System by 2040.
The decision in favor of the F-35 comes in the context of adjusting Germany’s defense strategy after Russia’s assault on Ukraine. Berlin’s new spending and modernization plans reward standard systems that can quickly fill readiness gaps in the military. “There is only one response to the aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin: unity within NATO and a credible deterrent”, said General Gerhartz, “which is why there is no alternative to the decision in favor of F-35. ” The German choice will also bring more opportunities for cooperation between nations, as the same aircraft has already been chosen by Switzerland and Finland, while the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Denmark and Norway are using it.
Meanwhile, Germany remains committed to the FCAS program: according to a statement by Minister Lambrecht, she said she spoke to her French counterpart Florence Parly about the decision to purchase the F-35 during the March 9 visit to Evreux air base. , in northern France, where the two countries are operating a joint air transport unit with C-130J aircraft. The FCAS program remains critical at the moment as the main contractors, Dassault and Airbus Defense and Space, are unable to reach an agreement covering work-sharing and intellectual property rights. Earlier this month, Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault, spoke scornfully about the prospect of Germany buying the F-35, suggesting that Berlin had been pushed by the US to purchase the jet for nuclear missions while complying with a words the mantra of European buy. Armed with so many orders for his Rafale fighter, Dassault will hardly compromise by renouncing the claim to have the leadership of the program. Unless French President Emmanuel Macron intervenes in the spirit of saving the project by imposing acceptance of the Airbus clauses.