The German Defence Ministry has shortlisted its options to two aircraft, with one of them going on to take-over the role of the Luftwaffe’s Panavia Tornado ECR/IDS fleet, which currently sits at roughly 85-90 aircraft.

A US Navy Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet [Reg: 16-8930] from VFA-106 “Gladiators” displaying at RIAT 2016. Image – Khalem Chapman ©.

On 31 January 2019, German defence officials announced they had shortlisted two aircraft types as candidates to replace their ageing Tornado fleet when they are phased out of operational service in 2025. The shortlist includes the possible procurement of US-made F/A-18E/F Super Hornets or an option to expand their fleet of Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon multi-role fighters to absorb the Tornado’s role.

Germany reviewed possible Tornado replacement options in the form of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II; Boeing’s F-15 Eagle and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; and a further order of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, which is already employed by the Luftwaffe. The F-15 and F-35 have reportedly since been cut.

“We have not been officially notified of a decision on Germany’s future fighter.”

Lockheed Martin spokesman, Mike Friedman.

The decision to cut the F-35 (potentially the most advanced option on the table) signals Germany’s commitment to the Franco-German “Future Combat Air System” (FCAS). The French reportedly hinted that if the Germans were to acquire a fleet of F-35s, their need for the FCAS would be made redundant. The Franco-German FCAS is expected to form the backbone of both nation’s air arms from 2040.

Lockheed Martin spokesman, Mike Friedman, said “We have not been officially notified of a decision on Germany’s future fighter.” He added that: “The F-35 delivers unmatched value as the most capable and lowest life-cycle cost aircraft, while delivering the strongest long-term industrial and economic opportunities compared to any fighter on the market. As the foundation of NATO’s next generation of air power, the F-35 is the most advanced aircraft in the world today, and includes Electronic Attack capabilities well beyond any specialized fourth generation aircraft.”

It has been noted, however, that the Typhoon has yet to be certified to carry US-made nuclear weapons, which would need to be attained so Germany could continue its role in NATO’s nuclear mission. Another option which has been tabled is the idea of keeping a small fleet of Tornado’s operation to continue this mission as they are certified to perform this role.

A German Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000S Typhoon [Reg: 30+29], of Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 “Bavarian Tigers” sporting its “Cyber Tiger” scheme at RIAT 2016. Image – Khalem Chapman ©.

Despite the shortlist being made, German officials have stated that a final decision had yet to be made.

More follows…

By Khalem Chapman [01/02/2019]
Featured Image: A German Air Force Panavia Tornado IDS (PA-200) [Reg: 46+54] of Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 (TLG-51) taxiing to depart RIAT 2017. Image – Khalem Chapman ©.