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12:42 PM, February 1, 2019
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Germany has dropped Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet out of the tender and will choose between Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter to replace its Tornado warplanes.

The final decision will be taken once the ministry receives detailed information regarding the aircraft from its manufacturers.

Germany also wants to confirm if the aircraft is capable of carrying US nuclear weapons to fulfill its obligations to NATO, Reuters quoted defense ministry sources as saying Friday.

The process could be time consuming because it requires the US to certify that the two fighters can carry their nuclear weapons.

The country presently has 85 Tornado fighters in its air force fleet but not all of them are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Also, there's fear of increase in their maintenance costs.

Germany also intends to replace 33 oldest Eurofighter jets in a deal valued at nearly €3 billion ($3.4 billion) to make way for newer models.

Lockheed Martin had hoped to add to recent F-35 sales to other European countries, including Belgium. The company had even announced that the price of each F-35 jet could drop to less than $80 million.

Sources familiar with the process last year had said the ministry wanted to split the order between one of the two US planes and the Eurofighter, which is built by Airbus, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Leonardo. But it now appears Berlin will pick just one winner.

Paris, Germany's closest European partner, had warned that buying the F-35 in particular could derail plans to develop a new Franco-German fighter by 2040.

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