If the Eurofighter is chosen one key issue may be Germany’s need to provide NATO with aircraft capable to carry the primary U.S. nuclear bomb, the B61. The aircraft in fact would have to be adapted to carry the bomb and then certified, and Washington would have to sign off on the matter.
An anonymous U.S. military official told Reuters that there is a chance to sell U.S. fighters to Germany despite a Defense Ministry statement saying it prefers the Eurofighter to replace its fleet of 85 Tornado jets.
“The United States is confident that there are U.S. platforms that would be competitive,” said the official.
The ministry’s position appears to contradict that of Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Karl Muellner who had indicated that his preference is the Lockheed Martin F-35. “The Tornado replacement needs to be fifth-generation aircraft that can be detected as late as possible, if at all. It must be able to identify targets from a long way off and to target them as soon as possible,” he said.
But it made clear that no decisions would be made until after a comprehensive assessment of all options.
Washington must respond by Mar. 31, 2018 to the German ministry’s formal request for information about the F-35 the F-15 and the F/A-18E/F. It has also sought similar information about the Eurofighter.
The ministry said the replies would inform its evaluation of possible successors for its Tornado fleet, which is due to start leaving service around 2030. It said the process could “potentially (result) in a request for proposal and possible procurement over the next decade.”
“We’re confident the F-35 is the best value for NATO’s air forces now and for credible deterrence well into the future,” said Lockheed spokesman Eric Schnaible.
U.S. officials briefed German officials on the capabilities of the Boeing aircraft last month, following a similar briefing on the Lockheed jet in July.
An Airbus spokesman said that “Generally, we view the Eurofighter as the ideal solution to take over the missions of the Tornado since it has already been introduced in the German military and would also guarantee the sovereignty of German missions.”
Nevertheless if the Eurofighter is chosen one key issue may be Germany’s need to provide NATO with aircraft capable to carry the primary U.S. nuclear bomb, the B61.
The Eurofighter in fact would have to be adapted to carry the bomb and then certified, and Washington would have to sign off on the matter. The F-15 is already cleared to carry the bombs, and the F-35 is due to get the capability in the early 2020s.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy and Tim Felce via Wikipedia
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