The German military has proposed buying 90 Eurofighter jets from Airbus plus 45 FA-18s from Boeing to replace its ageing Tornados.
In plans revealed to German publication Handelsblatt, the Eurofighters and FA-18s are to enter the German Air Force from 2025 and last till 2040 after which the air force combat requirement would be met by the Fanco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS) sixth generation jet.
The internal plans have not yet been approved by the Minister of Defence, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Her predecessor Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) narrowed the selection to the Eurofighter and the F-18 while leaving out the F-35, a decision that has angered the Americans.
The decision to include the FA-18 is to carry nuclear bombs as part of the nuclear deterrence of NATO, the publication said. The FA-18s would also include some ‘Growlers’ which are dedicated electronic attack aircraft.
Airbus has been lobbying hard for Germany to buy the Eurofighter. It has even commenced a program to test armaments and systems which would go into the future FCAS. One of which is the Eurofighter Electronic Combat Role (ECR) revealed in November last year.
Initial Eurofighter ECR capability is expected to be available by 2026, followed by further development steps and full integration into the FCAS ecosystems. The Eurofighter ECR offers electronic attack (EA) and suppression/destruction of enemy air defence (SEAD/DEAD).
As an advantage over the US-made Boeing FA-18 ‘Growler’, Airbus says the latest national escort jammer technology will ensure national control over features such as mission data and data analysis.
However the proposed split order has not been met with much enthusiasm in certain political and industrial circles in Germany, who question the logic behind having to create all new infrastructure for a relatively small number of FA-18 aircraft whose use might diminish after 2040, according to Handelsblatt.