Germany has plans to set up a joint fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J transport planes with France as part of a move to expand European defence cooperation to be announced at NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels.
The country also has plans to join a Netherlands-led fleet of Airbus A330 tanker planes,. Reuters reported Monday.
“Several other initiatives with Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic are part of a big move to expand European defence cooperation to be announced at NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels,” defence ministry officials said on Monday.
The agreements follows the raising pressure from the US to NATO countries to spend more for their own military and reach NATO’s target of contributing 2 per cent of gross domestic product to defense spending.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen expressed that the government would sign an expanded declaration of intent for a joint C-130J fleet with France, a plan first floated in October.
The declaration calls for Germany to buy four to six Lockheed planes from the US 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.
Germany will sign a declaration of intent to join a European multinational fleet of Airbus tankers that is led by the Netherlands and already includes Luxembourg.
If Belgium and Norway also join the group, the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) could expand to cover 8,800 flight hours a year, according to documents provided to German lawmakers last year. That would equate to about eight tankers.
The ministry said last year it could spend up to 1 billion euros in coming years for use of new Airbus planes that would be bought for the joint fleet.
The planes would be based at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands and at a German military base at the Cologne-Bonn airport.
Germany will also sign an expanded defence cooperation agreement with Norway that includes already procurement plans for submarines and missiles, as well as joint training, logistics and maintenance efforts.
There will also be declarations of intent for joint training and deployments of land forces with the Czech Republic and Romania.