Germany to replace Tornado with F-35

Germany will use its increased military budget to purchase American-built Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets. 

The Federal Ministry of Defence told parliament on March 14, 2022 that it had decided on the F-35 for the nuclear mission. The electronic combat and reconnaissance role (ECR) will be covered by future development of the Eurofighter, defense minister Christine Lambrecht announced.

“The F-35 offers unique cooperation potential with our NATO partners and other partners in Europe,” Lambrecht said.  


The news was previously reported by Reuters, which cited sources saying Germany was planning to purchase up to 35 F-35s. The new jets will replace the German Air Force’s ageing fleet of Panavia Tornado multirole jets 


On February 27, 2022, Germany announced an intention to increase its military spending to more than 2% of its GDP in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 


The German Air Force has been mulling the purchase of American jets to replace the Tornado for several years, with the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II as the main contenders.  


In April 2020, the F/A-18 was announced as the victor. However, the purchase was postponed, and sources within the government revealed that the F-35 was still on the table.  


There have been concerns that the purchase of the F-35 could hamper Germany’s participation in the pan-European FCAS program, which aims to develop a sixth-generation fighter jet. 

The Federal Ministry of Defence said in its statement that using the Eurofighter for ECR as part of a dual-fleet strategy would secure key technologies in Germany and Europe and give Germany a role in the development of FCAS.   


UPDATE 03-15-2022, 08:19 UTC: Updates article throughout with confirmation from the German Federal Ministry of Defence. The government published a press release on March 14, 2022 confirming that the F-35 was chosen as a replacement for the Tornado.

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