Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space, has warned the German government against the purchase of the F-35.
“As soon as Germany becomes an F-35 member nation, cooperation on all combat aircraft issues with France will die,” Hoke said in an interview with Welt Am Sonntag which can be found here.
The local news site says that the Bundeswehr is looking for a successor model for the Tornado fighter-bomber. One candidate is the F-35 but “that does not suit the CEO of the Airbus armaments division”.
Airbus manager Hoke sees a historic opportunity in the competition with France on the fighter jet. “Europe needs to define its sovereignty more clearly, and to clearly state that we need to maintain independence in defence and space” he said.
The German Air Force recently issued a formal request for information about the F-35, as well as three other jets with the F-35 being their ‘preference’. The other jets are the F-15 and F/A-18E/F.
Germany is replacing its 85 Tornado jets, which will go out of service around 2030.
“The Tornado replacement needs to be fifth-generation aircraft that can be detected as late as possible, if at all. It must be able to identify targets from a long way off and to target them as soon as possible.
The German Ministry of Defence is looking at several aircraft today, including the F-35 – it is commercially available already, has been ordered by many nations and is being introduced into service today, and has most of the capabilities required.”
Based on these requirements, it’s hard to see any alternative to Lockheed Martin’s F-35. The Luftwaffe would be able to benefit from expanding infrastructure to support the jets in Europe.