The German parliament has given the green light for the acquisition of 35 F-35A fighters for a total of €10 billion. The first six aircraft are expected in 2026.
The order was confirmed by both the Bundeswehr (the German military) and the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
“At its meeting on December 14[, 2022], the budget committee of the German Bundestag approved the funds for the procurement of the stealth multipurpose combat aircraft,” the Bundeswehr announced in a statement.
The procurement will be funded by the €100 billion earmarked by Germany to modernize its armed forces shortly after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
The role of the new F-35A fleet will be to replace the Panavia Tornado strike aircraft
Since its service entry in the 1970s, the Tornado has been the designated aircraft of the Luftwaffe to carry the 20 US-made B61 nuclear bombs stockpiled in Germany as part of NATO nuclear sharing.
After considering the Eurofighter Typhoon or the F/A-18 Super Hornet as potential successors, the lack of certification of those aircraft to carry the B61 nuclear bomb eventually forced the German government to settle for the F-35.
Germany is also jointly developing with France and Spain a replacement for the Typhoon. Known as the Future Combat Air System, the program sees Dassault Aviation and Airbus collaborating with other European manufacturers to develop a “system of systems” around the Next Generation Fighter (NGF), a sixth-generation fighter jet.