Germany will purchase Lockheed Martin Co. F-35 warplanes to replace older Tornado fighter-bombers. The goal is to replace the Tornado fleet by 2030, Lambrecht said Monday at a press conference. She didn’t say how many of the $100 million-plus F-35s Germany planned to purchase, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said.
The country has announced a 100 billion-euro ($110 billion) spending spree to modernize its armed forces, spurred by the threat to stability posed by entry of Russian troops into Ukraine. Germany has been weighing a choice between the F-35 and Boeing Co.’s F/A-18 Super Hornet for its “nuclear sharing” role, in which NATO members without arsenals of their own share in the planning and potential use of such weapons.
The military had always preferred the F-35 for the nuclear role, because it is newer and has greater stealth capability. But as a relatively new aircraft it was also seen as a threat to the viability of the future German-French New Generation Fighter. Nuclear share countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy have all opted for the F-35.
«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," Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement.
The Tornado is the only German jet capable of carrying U.S. nuclear bombs, which are stored in Germany, in case of a conflict. But the German air force has been flying the Tornado since the 1980s, and Berlin is planning to phase it out between 2025 and 2030.