The German Air Force, also known as the Luftwaffe, is moving closer to buying the Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth-generation fighter.
The Luftwaffe wants to replace its fleet of 85 Panavia Tornados, which date to the 1980s, with “fifth-generation” aircraft “to meet the full spectrum of our needs,” Lt. Gen. Karl Muellner said Wednesday, the most visible public statement to date that Germany will procure the F-35.
Last month, the aerial branch of the Bundeswehr sent out formal requests for information (RFIs) on the F-35, F-15, F/A-18 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. The service hopes for new warplanes to enter service in 2025 as the Tornadoes begin to go offline.
The next fighter plane needs to be “low-observable, and able to identify and strike targets from a distance,” Muellner told Reuters.
A Lockheed executive told the wire service, “it’s really about giving nations a deterrent capability. Because if you’ve got the capability to take an airplane into another country’s airspace and they don’t even know you’re there, that’s an incredible deterrent.”
In July, the US convened with European allies to discuss how the F-35 would be used in that theater.
“Bringing the F-35 into this theater will really change the way we do business in a way that we haven’t seen for decades,” US Air Forces in Europe Vice Cmdr. Timothy Fay said at the time.
Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and the UK have already signed on as F-35 clients. Germany, Finland, Spain and Switzerland are possible future F-35 program participants.
Germany’s sent a letter requesting classified information (distinct from the aforementioned RFI) on the F-35 program in May to help Berlin conduct an “an in-depth evaluation of market available solutions.”