Germany eying F-35 fighter jets to replace its Tornados ?

More nations show interest in Lockheed Martin F-35. In December, the Finnish Ministry of Defense announced its selection of the Lockheed Martin F-35 as a replacement platform for the Finnish Air Force fleet of 62 F/A-18C/D Hornets. In Europe, UK, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, have already selected the F-35, and it still going on. Lockheed Martin’s business development team has been successful in winning nearly every fighter competition where the F-35 has been a contender. One of the few exceptions was in early 2019, when Germany rejected the F-35 and decided to proceed with the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet as replacement platforms for its Tornado fleet. But recent sources suggest that Germany could possibly opt for the F-35

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Germany eying F 35 fighter jets to replace its Tornados 01 First Norwegian F-35 Lightning II landing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., Nov. 10, 2015 (Picture source: US Air Force)

As part of NATO's “nuclear sharing”, and like Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey, Germany has around twenty B-61 nuclear bombs made available to it by the US military. And, as such, it needs a fighter-bomber capable of implementing them, if necessary.

The Eurofighter EF-2000, a European solution,  was the preference of the government led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, but  it had to be ruled out given that the certification of the Eurofighter EF-2000 to carry the B-61 would not have been obtained by the withdrawal of the Tornados.

In 2020, Germany announced its intention to procure from Boeing 30 F / A-18 Super Hornets [block III] and 15 E / A-18 Growlers for electronic warfare missions. But since then, no order has been placed.

For their part, the US administration removed the F / A-18 Super Hornet from the list of aircraft requiring certification to carry the B-61. There are two reasons for this: the US Navy is no longer carrying nuclear weapons on board its aircraft carriers, and the German order has not yet been signed.

The F-35A might be now back in the race. This is indeed what the German news agency DPA suggested in a dispatch concerning the last interview between Christine Lambrecht, the Minister of Defense, with Olaf Scholz, Merkel's successor. The agenda of this interview was to "clarify whether the purchase of more modern F-35 planes is likely to be an alternative and whether the Eurofighter can be considered to resume the electronic warfare missions of the Tornado “.