US Briefs German Military On F-35 Fighter Jets

  • Our Bureau
  • 05:14 AM, July 12, 2017
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US Briefs German Military On F-35 Fighter Jets
F-35 during a flight test

The US officials briefed German military on the F-35 fighter jets to this week. Berlin had requested for a classified briefing on the aircraft in May.

Germany is still to decide in 2018 about whether to buy an existing fighter aircraft or start a new fighter development program to replace its aging Tornado fighter jets.

The decision will hinge largely on assessments of how long the Tornados can stay in use, Reuters quoted a German Defence Ministry spokesperson as saying Tuesday.

"The F-35 is one of many options we are exploring," he said.

The German Air Force had requested for classified data regarding Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet for evaluation of possible solutions to replace its aging Tornado multi-role combat aircraft in May.

The application stated that the German defense ministry would carry out an in-depth evaluation of market available solutions including the F-35, later this year. The ministry will issue a formal ‘letter of request’ in the coming months.

The letter, sent by the Air Force's planning command and seen by Reuters, makes clear that the German government has not yet authorized a procurement program and is not committed to any particular aircraft to replace its current warplanes.

The request might come as a surprise as Germany in December 2015 had planned to develop a new fighter along with its European partners. A draft document by the Defense Ministry on ‘military aviation strategy’ had stated it was still unclear whether the new jet would be manned or unmanned.

The Future Combat Air System (FCAS)—as the Bundeswehr program is called—would likely be a system of systems that combines manned and unmanned elements.

"The German government asked Airbus to consider alternatives for a Tornado replacement that will be complementary with the Eurofighter,” Alberto Gutierrez, head of the Eurofighter program was quoted as saying by The National Interest in March this year.

Lockheed Martin also plans to provide the German defense ministry with information about opportunities for German industry to participate in the F-35 program, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

This week's briefings took place in Bonn, Germany, on Monday and Tuesday and involved a German one-star general, as well as working groups looking at specific weapons requirements and capabilities, according to another source briefed on the matter.

"This meeting is consistent with the standard Foreign Military Sales process where we explain the path to F-35 acquisition and provide a top-level F-35 capabilities brief," F-35 program office spokesman Joe DellaVedova said.

The German military plans to send Washington a formal "letter of request" for information about the F-35 and Boeing Co's F-15 and F/A-18E/F fighter jets later this summer, the ministry spokesman said.

It will also gather information from Airbus about its work on a next-generation weapons system, he added.

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