German Air Force F 35 640Luftwaffe to acquire F-35 after all

The German Luftwaffe (GAF, German Air Force) is set to replace its aging Tornado IDS/ECR fleet with the F-35A Lightning II. It is expected an estimated 35 Lockheed Martin F-35As will be bought to continue the nuclear task of the Panavia Tornado IDS of Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33 (TLG33) at Büchel.

A new Eurofighter Typhoon Electronic Combat version is to supersede the Panavia Tornado ECR of Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 (TLG51) at Schleswig. Reportedly fifteen of the new, yet to develop variant, will be acquired. The decision to acquire the F-35A was officially announced on 14 March 2022, via a tweet by the German Ministry of Defense: 

“The decision on the Tornado successor has been made: With the F-35 aircraft type, the task of nuclear sharing will be guaranteed in the future. The goal is to replace the Tornado by 2030.”

The commander of the German air force, Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, stated: “With the F-35 and the further development of the Eurofighter in electronic combat, the Luftwaffe is very well positioned for the future”.

This the first large-scale arms purchase under the new coalition government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany has stated to increase defense spending. It also stops years of uncertainty how the Luftwaffe would go ahead about replacing its aging Tornado IDS aircraft fleet.  Different combinations of Eurofighter Typhoon, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and F-35, had all been a possibility at some stage.

Picture (just illustrative): South Korean Air Force F-35A (19-007), Daan van Laatzen

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