BERLIN --- Germany’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that its plan to give priority to the European fighter jet over U.S. competitors in a competition to replace aging Tornado jets would retain aircraft expertise in Europe and continue use of a proven system.
The German Defence Ministry, in a letter to a Greens lawmaker, acknowledged that the German air force’s strategy recommended parallel use of two different fighter jet models, but said that was “not a binding guideline.”
The ministry said in December that the Eurofighter Typhoon was the leading candidate to replace its Tornado jets beginning in 2025. It said it did not share the view of German air force chief Georg Muellner, who had indicated he preferred Lockheed Martin Corp’s stealthy F-35 fighter jet.
Its latest comments came after Greens lawmaker Tobias Lindner asked the ministry to explain that position, and how it jarred with the air force’s strategy to operate two different models of fighter jets, aimed at ensuring the ability to continue operations in the event of fleet-wide grounding.
Deputy Defence Minister Ralf Brauksiepe told Lindner a final decision on the Tornado replacement would be made only after a comprehensive assessment of data provided by the aircraft manufacturers.
He said the ministry intended to buy a combat aircraft that was already available on the market, and would look primarily at the Eurofighter, as well as the Lockheed F-35 and the F-15E and F/A-18E/F fighter jets built by Boeing Co. (end of excerpt)
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