BERLIN --- Germany will pick either the Eurofighter or Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet to replace its Tornado warplanes, knocking Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter out of a tender worth billions of euros, Defence Ministry sources said on Thursday.
The ministry will make a final decision after receiving detailed information from Boeing and Airbus about the aircraft, which must be able to carry U.S. nuclear weapons to fulfill Germany’s obligations to NATO, the sources said.
No timetable for a decision was given, but the process could take time since the U.S. government will have to certify both jets to carry the nuclear weapons. Germany has 85 operational Tornado jets, but not all are equipped to carry nuclear weapons.
The German air force will also move ahead with long-awaited plans to replace its 33 oldest Eurofighter jets, now used mainly for air policing or training, with new, more capable Eurofighters in coming years, the sources said.
That will translate into orders worth up to 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) for Airbus, according to sources familiar with the issue.
The decision marks a big setback for Lockheed, the top U.S. arms maker, which had hoped to add to recent F-35 sales to other European countries, including Belgium.
Germany’s air force chief of staff was fired last year after he expressed a clear preference for the F-35. The ministry later said it favored a “European solution”. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was first reported by the German defense blog Augen Geradeaus.