The Bundestag, the German parliament, approved the acquisition of 38 Eurofighter Typhoons for the Luftwaffe, in a deal estimated to be worth around €5.4 billion. The delivery of the Airbus fourth-generation fighter jets should start from 2025.
The order is particularly beneficial for Airbus, affected by the coronavirus pandemic. “The decision of the German Parliament to buy 38 Eurofighter, known as the Quadriga project, is a very strong message, not only for the German Air Force but also for Europe, in particular for European defense manufacturers. More than 100,000 jobs are based on programs like this,” said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defense and Space, in a video.
The new Typhoons will be delivered in their Tranche 3 multirole variant and will replace the Tranche 1 air superiority variant currently operating within the Luftwaffe.
The Eurofighter consortium regroups Airbus Defense and Space, based in Spain and Germany, the Italian group Leonardo and the British manufacturer BAE Systems.
Germany’s commitment to the European defense industry
The 38 fighters are the first installment of Germany’s long-term acquisition plan of 93 Typhoons from Airbus, 30 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, and 15 of the variant for electronic warfare, the EA-18G Growler. The decisions on the remaining should be voted in the German parliament throughout 2021.
As a member of the NATO nuclear sharing agreement, Germany has to maintain a fleet of fighter jets capable of carrying out a nuclear strike. Certifying the Typhoon for such missions was considered for some time. But the process was too long as the nuclear-capable Panavia Tornados are set to retire by 2025, 2030 at the latest. Some argue that the United States simply refused to comply. Whichever reason may lie behind the decision, Germany eventually chose the Super Hornet as a replacement for the aging Tornado.
Choosing a mix of Typhoons and Super Hornets over the Lockheed Martin F-35 was one of Germany’s commitments towards European defense sovereignty. Indeed, picking the U.S. fifth-generation fighter jet would have undoubtedly soured the relationship with France. Dassault Aviation and Airbus are currently collaborating on a project to replace both the Typhoon and the Rafale by 2040, called the Future Air Combat System (FCAS).