European plane maker Airbus said Wednesday it had signed a contract to supply 38 new Eurofighters to Germany’s air force, as Berlin updates an aging fleet of combat aircraft.
MPs had already approved the Airbus deal, set to cost almost 5.5 billion euros ($6.5 billion) and see the new fighters delivered between 2025 and 2030.
@AirbusDefence will deliver 38 new Eurofighter aircraft (30 single-seater, 8 twin-seater) to @Team_Luftwaffe. This makes Germany the largest ordering nation in Europe's biggest defence programme. 3 aircraft will be equipped with additional test installations (1/2). @AirbusPRESS pic.twitter.com/7mosATpQjP
— Aeronews (@AeronewsGlobal) November 11, 2020
Berlin said the move was part of a wider plan decided earlier this year to split its choice of replacement for the decades-old Tornado aircraft between 93 of the European-made planes and 45 American F-18 jets.
At the time, Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s government hoped to show willingness after US pressure to live up to NATO commitments on defense spending, while also supporting the European defense industry.
Although Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had hoped for lawmakers to sign-off on the American planes before upcoming elections next autumn, a defense ministry spokesman said MPs would only get their say in the following parliament.
Airbus defense and space chief executive Dirk Hoke said in a statement the Eurofighter planes would have “a service life well beyond 2060” and be compatible with a next-generation European fighter currently in the earliest stages of development, known as FCAS.