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ILA 2024: Germany considers additional F-35A combat aircraft

A mock-up of the F-35A at the ILA Berlin Air Show sporting Luftwaffe markings. Germany is now considering buying eight more jets to add to the 35 now on order, Reuters has reported. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Germany is looking at acquiring additional Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) combat aircraft to further satisfy its ongoing Tornado replacement procurement programme.

Reuters announced Germany's intent to buy eight more F-35As to add to the 35 already on order and due for delivery from 2026, citing comments made by a German military official at the ILA Berlin Air Show on 7 June.

Berlin is now examining the cost of such a procurement, the report said. The original procurement for 35 aircraft was valued at EUR10 billion (USD10.9 billion), that included, infrastructure, training, and other related non-recurring items. These items would not be included in any follow-on buy of additional aircraft. Lockheed Martin was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Ahead of the introduction into service of the F-35A, the Luftwaffe is now upgrading Büchel Air Base to qualify as the main operating base for the type. The first aircraft will be delivered to the Bundeswehr in the US in 2026, with the type arriving in Germany by 2027. Between 2026 and 2027 the Luftwaffe will begin training in the US.

The Luftwaffe is looking to replace 90 Tornado Interdiction Strike (IDS)/Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) aircraft that are to be retired in 2030. To this end, the Bundeswehr has already contracted 35 F-35A and 15 retrofitted Eurofighter Elektronischer Kampf (EK) electronic attack (EA) aircraft to take on elements of the IDS and ECR roles respectively. However, while the F-35As will be additional airframes, the Eurofighter EKs will be existing airframes retrofitted with EA equipment.

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