BERLIN --- Germany will move forward this week with plans to set up a joint fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J transport planes with France and join a Netherlands-led fleet of Airbus A330 tanker planes, defense ministry sources said on Monday.
Those and several other initiatives with Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic are part of a broader drive to expand European defense cooperation to be announced at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, the sources said.
The agreements come as Germany and other NATO members face increasing pressure from the United States to spend more for their own military and reach NATO's target of devoting 2 percent of gross domestic product to defense spending.
Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who last week said U.S. demands for greater burden-sharing were "fair," will sign an expanded declaration of intent for a joint C-130J fleet with France, a plan first floated in October, the sources said.
The declaration calls for Germany to buy four to six Lockheed planes from the U.S. government and pool them with France's fleet. France is buying four C-130Js from Lockheed and could purchase several additional aircraft in coming years, according to an additional source familiar with the program. (end of excerpt)
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