Germany is planning to purchase 93 Eurofighters as well as 45 U.S.-made F-18s to replace its aging Tornado bomber-fighter jet fleet, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Tuesday.
Amid growing criticism over her decision to include U.S.-made aircraft, the minister told Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper that the F-18s will “serve as bridging technology” to replace capabilities that would otherwise be lost when the German Luftwaffe’s old Tornado fleet is grounded.
On Monday, defense ministry spokesperson Arne Collatz-Johannsen said that Germany would purchase aircraft from both the E.U. and U.S. manufacturers and that “fewer than a third” would be American.
To retire the present fleet of Tornado aircraft, the Luftwaffe must maintain certain capabilities, and Kramp-Karrenbauer told the German daily “it has to be said, that currently only U.S. manufacturers are offering” the capacity to carry nuclear weapons.
In a letter to parliament’s defense committee, the minister underscored that the Boeing-built jets would allow Germany to meet its NATO nuclear sharing duties as they can carry U.S. atomic warheads.
At present, the Tornado is the only Luftwaffe plane certified to carry nuclear arms.
The minister stressed however that Eurofighters would be the “backbone of the Luftwaffe.”
An advanced Franco-German fighter dubbed the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is not expected to be ready until 2040.
With reporting from AFP