July 29, 2022
The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of over $8 billion worth of F-35 aircraft to Germany, moving closer to providing Berlin with new fighter aircraft for nuclear deterrence missions.
The State Department on Thursday announced the foreign military sales (FMS) approval for up to 35 F-35A aircraft, along with munitions and related equipment, for a total estimated cost of $8.4 billion.
These fighter jets, built by Lockheed Martin, will take over by 2030 the nuclear weapons mission from the German Air Force’s aging fleet of PA-200 Tornado aircraft, based at Tactical Air Wing 33 in Büchel, Germany.
German Air Force Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht announced in March the decision to procure the joint strike fighter, in a major reversal from previous plans to buy Boeing-made F-18 aircraft. In that statement, the two military leaders justified the decision by pointing to “a need for unity within NATO, and a credible deterrent” to Russia.
Germany is but one of several European nations that has opted for the U.S.-made F-35 to replenish its fighter jet fleets. Most recently, Greece has sent an official letter of request to procure 20 F-35As by 2028, while the Czech Republic wants the aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Saab JAS 39 Gripens.
Meanwhile, Finland plans to spend $10 billion to buy 64 F-35 aircraft to replace its F-18 Hornets, with initial deliveries to start in 2026. Switzerland also selected the joint strike fighter in 2021, committing to 36 aircraft that will replace its own Hornet fleet.
Poland will receive 32 F-35A aircraft beginning in 2024, after a letter of agreement was signed between Warsaw and Washington in January 2020. Belgium also selected the F-35 in 2018, and will receive 34 aircraft, per Lockheed Martin.