The German Air Force is seeking to buy a consignment of US F-35A fighter aircraft to replace its ageing Tornado fleet. The decision comes after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz last month announced a massive boost in defence spending as the Ukraine conflict forces Berlin to reassess its foreign and defence policies.
The F-35 Lightning II is considered the most modern combat aircraft in the world. Due to its special shape and outer coating, it reflects little radar radiation and is therefore hardly noticeable to enemy troops. The jets will be stationed at Tactical Air Force Squadron 33 in Büchel. The federal government plans to purchase up to 35 F-35A aircraft through a so-called foreign military sales process in the United States of America.
The F-35A is the variant of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 family that takes off and lands conventionally. The Lockheed Martin stealth jet reaches a speed of 1.6 Mach, which corresponds to about 1,960 kilometers per hour. It is 15.7 meters long, has a wingspan of 10.7 meters and a range of 2,100 kilometers. Since NATO partners in Europe also use the F-35, synergy effects are possible in operation.
There is also the F-35B, a short takeoff aircraft that can land vertically, and the aircraft carrier variant F-35C, which has larger wings, reinforced landing gear and snap hooks. All are single-seaters and certified for transporting nuclear weapons.
This continues to guarantee Germany’s nuclear participation, which has been secured by the Luftwaffe’s Tornado fleet for a good 40 years. Nuclear sharing is a NATO deterrent concept in which allies in an emergency US-To transport atomic bombs.
The Luftwaffe’s 85 Tornados are also currently being used for electronic combat, airstrikes and tactical reconnaissance. In the future, Eurofighters are to take on the role of electronic combat, i.e. disrupting, suppressing and fighting enemy air defence positions. Another 15 jets of this type will be purchased for this purpose. The manufacturer Airbus will equip these accordingly technically in the next few years. With this decision, the tried and tested two-fleet concept of the Luftwaffe will be retained.
The new F-35A and Eurofighter are to be financed from the 100 billion euro “special fund” announced by Chancellor Olaf Scholz after Putin’s attack on Ukraine and the threats against the West.