Germany has decided to purchase 35 U.S. F-35 fighter jets to replace its ageing Tornado fighters that are capable of delivering a nuclear bomb.
The development sees a significant shift in German security policy, including a pledge to reach NATO’s 2% target for defence spending.
“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,” said German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht in a statement.
The Tornado fighter plane is the only jet in the German air force capable of carrying U.S. nuclear bombs, which are stored in Germany, in case of a conflict. The German air force plans to phase out the Tornado between 2025 and 2030.
In addition to the purchase of F-35s, Germany will also purchase 15 Eurofighter jets equipped for electronic warfare, a capability yet to be developed by Franco-German producer Airbus.
The decision to purchase the F-35 purchase will be a blow for Boeing since it was pitching the sale of F-18.
The decision clouds a joint Franco-German fighter jet that is in the pipeline and is likely to be ready in the 2040s. In an effort to assuage French concerns, Lambrecht echoed Scholz in stressing continued German support for the joint fighter programme.
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