German ministry gives priority to Eurofighter Typhoon
The German defense ministry confirmed its will of prioritizing the Eurofighter Typhoon over the controversial Lockheed F-35 and Boeing F-15E and F/A-18E/F that are also in the run. The goal is to secure the “military aircraft expertise in Germany and Europe“, and favor domestic work.
The mission of the current German government is to replace the aging fleet of Panavia Tornado (another European project entered in service in 1982) by the year 2025. The Tornado is still being operated while at the same time discussions around a Franco-German cooperation are held to build a proper European 5th generation fighter. Even if they are among the best fighters currently on the market, the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale are both being considered as parts of a 4.5th generation, as their original designs were drawn in the 1980’s and have later been refitted with current technology.
Buying ready-to-fly fighters and developing a new one at the same time may seem cannibalistic, but it mainly shows the precarious situation in which the Luftwaffe is. As the Tornado is becoming more and more of a problem to maintain, the whole German air capacity is getting questioned.
The chief inspector of the German air force had indicated its personal preference for the F-35 in November 2017, as Norway, the Netherlands and Italy among other European countries have chosen the Lockheed fighter and are already getting their first deliveries. However, a month later, the Ministry had expressed its preference for the European Typhon over its American competitors, showing what could be seen as a divergence between the government and the Bundeswehr. That choice has been confirmed on February 28, 2018, as Greens lawmaker Tobias Lindner questioned this position that contradicts previous equipment guideline, Reuters reports. The strategy of the Bundeswehr so far has been to use two different models of fighter jet in case a technical problem grounded one of them. Choosing the Eurofighter Typhoon would mean abandoning this method, as it is already the fighter used conjointly with the Panavia Tornado.
The German Defense Ministry answered to Lindner by saying that while the ‘parallel fighters’ strategy was recommended by the German air force, it was “not a binding guideline”.
Another critic made by the Greens lawmaker is that national and/or European preference in military acquisition has been a costly policy in the past. Examples such as the Eurocopter Tiger and the Airbus A400M, two multinational European projects that went way over budget and were delayed for years, seem to support Lindner’s doubts. But Deputy Defense Minister Ralf Brauksiepe answered that such a problem should be avoided, as the Eurofighter is already available on the market.
No final decision has been given yet, as the government still studies the data provided by the different manufacturers.
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