The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) appears to prefer the Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth-generation fighter as replacement for its three decade old Tornados.
The Luftwaffe wants to replace its fleet of 85 Panavia Tornados procured in the 1980s, with ‘fifth-generation aircraft to meet the full spectrum of our needs,” Lt. Gen. Karl Muellner of the Luftwaffe was quoted as saying to Reuters yesterday. The next fighter plane needs to be “low-observable, and able to identify and strike targets from a distance,” Muellner said.
Last month, the German MoD issued requests for information (RFIs) on the F-35 (Lockheed Martin), F-15, F/A-18 (Boeing) and the Typhoon (Eurofighter consortium) seeking information about a new fighter to enter service in 2025.
The features mentioned in Muellner’s statement refer most closely to the Lockheed Martin F-35 from the list of aircraft in the Luftwaffe's contention. Despite continuing teething problems, the F-35 is seen as the most advanced fighter jet in the world.
Earlier in May the German MoD had sent a a letter to the US government requesting classified information on the F-35 program to help Berlin conduct an “an in-depth evaluation.”
Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and the UK have already signed on as F-35 customer-partners. Germany and Spain are possible future F-35 program customers.