Germany’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contradicted the country’s air force chief in declaring that the Panavia Tornado should be replaced by the Eurofighter Typhoon rather than the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
Reuters reported on 11 December that the MoD’s stated position is that additional Typhoons should replace the Tornados from 2025, with the Boeing F-15 Eagle and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet being the preferred alternatives.
The declaration, which was reportedly made in a letter to a German lawmaker, is in direct contradiction to views expressed by the chief of the Luftwaffe, Lieutenant General Karl Muellner, who in early November said it is his preference that the F-35 be the replacement platform.
“The indicated view of the [chief] of the air force that the F-35 Lightning II is an especially suitable successor to the Tornado system is not the position of the federal government,” Deputy Defence Minister Ralf Brauksiepe was quoted by Reuters as saying in the letter.
Speaking at the IQPC International Fighter conference in Berlin, Lt Gen Muellner said the F-35 would enable Germany to fulfil three primary goals for its Tornado replacement, in that it already satisfies the Luftwaffe’s military requirements; it would strengthen European co-operation through interoperability with other customer nations; and it would help to balance Germany’s trade surplus with the United States.
The general noted that the Tornado’s successor must have the full spectrum of offensive counter air and air interdiction; suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD); close air support (CAS); tactical reconnaissance; electronic warfare (EW); and the nuclear deterrent mission. It must also meet future threats and be survivable in a contested environment through the employment of low observability (stealth) technologies, as well as standoff sensors and weapons. “The Luftwaffe considers the F-35’s capability as the benchmark for the selection process for the Tornado replacement, and I think I have expressed myself clearly enough as to what the favourite of the air force is,” he said.
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