Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Germany to buy dozens of US stealth jets

Germany to buy dozens of US stealth jets

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Germany plans to buy up to 35 F-35 fighter jets made by US firm Lockheed Martin as well as 15 Eurofighter jets as part of a major push to modernise the armed forces in response to Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine. AFP

Germany to buy dozens of US stealth jets

Germany on March 14 unveiled plans to buy dozens of US-made F-35 fighter jets, as part of a multi-billion-euro push to modernise its armed forces in response to Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.

Berlin intends to buy 35 F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin to replace Germany’s decades-old Tornado fleet, as well as purchasing an additional 15 Eurofighter jets.

Minister of Defence Christine Lambrecht called the purchase agreement “a good step forwards” for Germany’s Bundeswehr armed forces.

“There can only be one answer to Putin’s aggression, and that is unity in NATO and credible deterrence,” Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, commander of the German Air Force, told reporters.

Germany’s Tornados are the only Luftwaffe planes certified to carry US nuclear bombs stationed in Germany that are a key part of NATO deterrence.

Lockheed’s fifth-generation F-35 stealth jets are considered the most modern combat aircraft in the world, and their unique shape and coating make them harder to detect by enemy radar.

The additional Eurofighter jets Germany plans to purchase, made by a consortium that includes Airbus, would be used for other operations, including electronic warfare like jamming enemy air defence systems.

In a landmark speech late last month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged to invest an extra €100 billion ($112 billion) to bring the nation’s chronically underfunded Bundeswehr into the modern age.

The spending boost marks a major reversal for Europe’s top economy, upending its policy of keeping a low military profile in part out of guilt over World War II.

After years of criticism that the country wasn’t shouldering enough of the financial burden in the NATO military alliance, Scholz vowed to spend “more than two per cent” of Germany’s gross domestic product annually on defence, surpassing NATO’s own two-per-cent target.

The shift was prompted by Russia’s offensive in Ukraine on February 24, which shook Germany’s sense of security and shone a harsh spotlight on the state of its armed forces.

The F-35 purchase however raised questions about the future of a common European fighter jet that is being developed with Spain and France.

Known as the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), that plane is slated to replace French-made Rafale jets and German and Spanish Eurofighter planes from 2040.

Scholz sought to allay fears that the project might become unnecessary, saying in February’s speech that the joint European project was an “absolute priority”.

But the Bundeswehr has to replace its 40-year-old, 93-strong Tornado fleet in the short term because it has become “obsolete”, Scholz added.

Lambrecht on March 14 also reiterated Germany’s commitment to FCAS in the long term.

Lawmaker Johannes Arlt from Scholz’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), said the F-35 deal was good news for FCAS in a roundabout way.

“The F-35 builds a bridge to FCAS. The Luftwaffe will learn to fly these fifth generation jets and that will help the FCAS project.”

The ultra-modern FCAS jets are considered sixth generation fighters.

Germany’s planned jet deal is bad news for US aviation giant Boeing, whose F-18 fighters were considered the frontrunner to succeed the Tornados.

While cheaper than F-35s, the F-18 would have had to have been recertified to be able to transport the atomic warheads hosted by Germany.

The price tag of Germany’s new combat jets was not immediately known.


  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro