Germany debates purchase of new fighter jets

A eurofighter jet in flight against a blue sky

In late April the German government’s Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, proposed the purchase 93 Eurofighters made by Airbus and 45 F-18s built by the US-based company Boeing, to replace its Tornado bomber-fighter fleet. The final decision is yet to be made by Germany’s parliament. The Social Democrats - a junior partner in the coalition government – have questioned the purchase of US planes, and defence experts pushing the reconsideration of the F35. The final decision is expected during the 2022-23 legislative period.

The Tornado’s were built in the 1970s and have been described by a German federal auditors’ report as a ““weapons system that has become obsolete, increasingly marked by technical faults and lack of availability” and is expected to be taking out of service by 2030. The French and German governments are planning a next-generation fighter called the “Future Combat Air System”, but this is not expected to be ready until 2040, leaving the German military with a “capability gap to bridge”.

The decision to purchase both Eurofighters and F-18s is influenced partly by the the German governments NATO commitments, including carrying US nuclear weapons. Currently the Tornado is the only plane in Germany’s fleet certified to carry nuclear arms. Kramp-Karrenbauer wrote a letter to the German parliament’s defence committee outlining how the F-18s would allow them to maintain this capability once the Tornado’s have been grounded.


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