Germany to acquire 35 F-35s from US amid Ukraine crisis
Germany is seeking an upgrade for its fleet of Tornadoes that have been in service for about four decades, and it is heading to the US to fulfill its demands, sparking French concerns.
Germany will acquire 35 Lockheed Martin F-35s from the United States to upgrade its aging Tornado fleet, Berlin revealed Monday, marking the first defense deal for the country since Chancellor Olaf Scholz's promise to spend some 100 billion euros on upgrading Germany's defensive capabilities in response to the Russian special military operation in Ukraine.
Germany's security policy has been shifting rapidly, with Berlin pledging to reach NATO's 2% target for defense spending.
"After looking thoroughly into all available options, I decided to initiate the purchase of F-35 aircraft as replacement for the Tornado in the role of nuclear sharing," Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement Monday.
The Tornado has been in service since the 1980s, and it is the only German jet capable of carrying US-made nuclear bombs Washington has been storing in Germany in case of a conflict.
In a bid to further upgrade its capabilities in the sky, Berlin will also acquire 15 Eurofighter jets equipped for electronic warfare, a technology pending development by Airbus, the joint venture between France and Germany, a confidential document sent to lawmakers to inform them of government plans said.
The German decision to purchase the American aircraft could be bothersome for France, as Paris has been keeping an eye on Germany's consideration of acquiring the F-18 or the more advanced F-35. The French concern stems from Paris fearing that Berlin collaborating with other nations on such matters could undermine their venture of manufacturing French-German fighter jets that were supposed to be on the market in more than two decades.
In an effort to assure Prais, Berlin's defense reiterated Scholz, stressing that Germany still supported the joint venture with France to get jointly made fighters in the air.