Germany to buy F-35 fighter jets – media
Berlin has decided to replace its fleet of outdated Tornado fighters with F-35 stealth aircraft, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) and Reuters reported on Monday, citing government sources. Germany is among several European countries, who pledged to significantly boost its defense spending amid the ongoing Russian military campaign against Ukraine.
According to dpa, Berlin plans to buy up to 35 US-made fighters along with 15 Eurofighter Typhoon jets. Bild newspaper said it is an “open secret” that Germany needs modern aircraft to carry US nuclear bombs stored in the country in case of a conflict.
Berlin originally wanted to purchase US-made F-18 warplanes, but scrapped the plan because, unlike the F-35s, they have not been certified to carry nuclear weapons, dpa said.
Late last month, Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised additional €100 billion ($109 billion) for the German armed forces, breaking with Germany's long-standing reluctance to drastically increase in defense spending since the end of WWII. He said at the time that F-35s could be potentially used as a replacement for the Tornadoes.
Many European states said they will boost their defense in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron argued this month that “our European defense must take a new step forward,” given the circumstances.
Similarly, Denmark announced that it will hold a referendum on scrapping its decades-old opt-out from the EU joint military policy.
Moscow attacked its neighbor in late February, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics in Donetsk and Lugansk. The German-and-French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc.
Kiev says the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.