LONDON --- Germany’s decision not to buy the F-35 stealth fighter jet is a “retrograde step” that could hamper the country’s ability to operate at the same level as its Nato partners, according to the European head of Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the aircraft.
Jonathan Hoyle, vice-president for Europe at the US defence group, said the German decision in January to exclude the F-35 from further consideration to replace its ageing Tornado fleet had caught a lot of governments “on the hop”. The German defence ministry said at the time it had decided to acquire either more Eurofighters from Airbus, the European group, or Boeing-made F-18s.
With the German rhetoric in the past three years having been about stepping up its defence capabilities, the decision not to consider the F-35 had prompted questions among other European governments over “Germany’s position going forward, and therefore what does it mean for Nato”, Mr Hoyle told the Financial Times in an interview.
He added that during a recent visit to Nato several ambassadors had expressed “disappointment” at the German decision. They had noted that while many of their countries were investing in fifth-generation fighter jet technology by opting for the F-35, “Germany, which has the biggest defence budget, has just taken this retrograde step and isn’t going to be there”. (end of excerpt)
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