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Luftwaffe yet to decide on final Tornado replacement numbers

A Luftwaffe Eurofighter on the flightline at the 2022 ILA Berlin Airshow. The service has told Janes that it does not yet know how many additional aircraft it will buy to replace the 90 Tornados being retired. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The German Luftwaffe has not yet determined how many new combat aircraft it is to acquire to replace its fleet of Panavia Tornados, a senior service official told Janes on 2 May.

Responding to a request for clarification and confirmation of the 85 new aircraft figure previously given by industry officials, Commanding General of Air Force Forces Command, Lieutenant General Günter Katz, said the Luftwaffe had never formally declared a one-for-one replacement of the Tornado, and that “a new target number does actually not exist”.

The Luftwaffe currently fields 90 Tornado Interdiction Strike (IDS)/Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) aircraft that are to be retired in 2030. A revised request for proposals (RFP) was issued in 2019 to source one or more types to fulfil these roles. While industry officials briefed at the time that the requirement would cover 85 new aircraft, Lt Gen Katz said that the requirement is for “a number closer to the present Tornado fleet strength”.

The service has already contracted 35 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II 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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