BERLIN --- The German defence ministry expects to announce next steps by the end of the year in its drive to replace 85 ageing Tornado fighter jets that will cost billions of euros.
“There will be a decision this year,” a ministry spokesman said, citing a pledge in July by Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to move ahead with the programme in 2018. The spokesman gave no further details on what the decision would entail.
Sources familiar with the process said the ministry was likely to narrow the field of potential replacement jets from four to two — the Eurofighter Typhoon built by Airbus, Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo SpA and most likely, the Lockheed Martin F-35.
Von der Leyen favours a European solution, but the ministry also reviewed data submitted by the U.S. government on the F-35, and the F-15 and F/A-18E/F jets, both built by Boeing.
Several options were on the table, including buying one type of jet to replace the Tornado jets, a split buy of two aircraft types, and extending the life of the Tornados. (ends)
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