Buying the F-35 could make sense for Germany given steady declines in the cost of the U.S. jets, and technical challenges with the Eurofighter
The Luftwaffe in fact has begun to look for a replacement fighter for its current fleet of fourth-generation warplanes (Tornadoes in use since 1981 and Eurofighters) that will be procured from 2025 to 2035. The F-35 is considered a fifth-generation fighter that thanks to its stealth capabilities is able to evade enemy radars.
The aircraft is in operational use by the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the U.S. Air Force (USAF), which last month carried out its first deployment of a small number of jets to Europe for training with other U.S. and NATO military aircraft.
Moreover the U.K., the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and Italy – key NATO allies of Germany – are already buying the F-35 fighter jet to replace their current aircraft, while Switzerland, Belgium and Finland are also looking at purchasing the Lightning II.
The Pentagon’s F-35 program office said it had received the letter and was “working to support the German Air Force request.”
“In order to understand (the) F-35’s cutting-edge technologies, the German Air Force is requesting a classified brief of the F-35’s capabilities in general and especially concerning sensor suites, information management and operational capabilities,” the letter said.
But given that Germany is not part of the international consortium that builds the F-35, the request for classified information must first be approved by the U.S. government, even though U.S. officials said they did not expect any problems securing the needed marketing license.
Actually buying the F-35 could make sense for Germany given steady declines in the cost of the U.S. jets, and technical challenges with the Eurofighter.
However Berlin has not yet authorized a procurement program and is not committed to any particular aircraft to replace its current warplanes.
Nevertheless the country defense ministry would carry out “an in-depth evaluation of market available solutions, including the F-35, later this year,” with a formal “letter of request” to be issued in coming months.
Top image: Jim Haseltine/U.S. Air Force Bottom image: Bundeswehr/Carl Schulze