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 F-35 is the “preferred” choice the list of aircraft the Luftwaffe is looking at according to a “senior service official” speaking anonymously under the Chatham House Rule, who told Jane’s 360:

“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.

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Steve M

It’d be interesting if he adopted the same tone if Dassault beat them to the joint Germany/France fighter.


It will be interesting to see if they do go down the route with France to design a 5th gen fighter. It will cost them a fortune to equal or surpass it and with Turkey, Japan and S Korea are already well down the road in terms of designing their own, they will face a really tough challenge to win export orders.

The UK actually seems to be doing well tying up partnerships with Turkey and Japan providing we are not just transferring technology without some form of work share.


I ageee. I also think the key to these deals is job share in the UK and even more important feeding back profit into skills development and innovation.


Indeed, the UK has their fingers in many pies at the moment.

Peter Crisp

I don’t understand this statement. The UK and France are working together nicely at the moment on new UAV’s and the UK has the F-35 so why would France be so aghast at Germany choosing it? Also I think it would be pretty rich for one nation to try and tell another what they can and can’t buy for national defence and threaten them with less co-operation in future as that hardly seems like a friendly way to behave to an ally. The Eurofighter has been in many competitions around the world and I don’t think we’ve ever threatened to… Read more »


It’s not France saying they shouldn’t buy it. It’s the CEO of airbus.

Jonathan Dickson

Well said

Paul T

Mmm perhaps Mr Hoke can persuade the German Government to buy the Rafale – that would please the French !


I think Airbus under Herr Enders is selling its remaining 10% stake in Dassault. The Germans have seen the light!


O dear, I wonder what the Flemish Belgians think of that idea.


The French ( and David Cameron) would have like the UK to build one carrier with cats and traps and pair up with them and a joint Anglo French carrier force based on Rafale. Remember CDG cannot operate F-35C and Rafale is certainly competitive with F-18. In the event BAE interests won out and we went F-35B and created an entirely new doctrine, carrier enabled projection; a masterpiece of political leger de main. The French are no doubt looking for Germany to share the development costs of what would have surely have been and may yet be a very expensive… Read more »


“In the event BAE interests won out and we went F-35B and created an entirely new doctrine, carrier enabled projection; a masterpiece of political leger de main.”



A bit tongue in cheek on my part perhaps. A friend of mine says history can be viewed either as conspiracy theories or a series of cock ups! Take your pick.


(Chris H) Paul. P – Actually I think you got it dead right. We are using advanced technology in the aircraft and extra assisted landing technology on the ships to avoid expensive CATOBAR carrier construction costs. It also means we can operate a full on 5th Gen carrier strike capability with 1/3 the manpower (excuse the sexism ladies) required on Nimitz or Ford Classes. One Ford carrier cost $16 Bn. We could build 3 QEs for that and I KNOW what any war fighting Admiral would prefer on a cost for cost basis – 3 capable carriers delivering 150+ F-35s… Read more »


It’s not as good as what we could of had. I only commented because I think a lot of people are wetting their knickers over our upcoming capability. Let’s be realistic, we didn’t choose to go v/stol because it was the best choice, we chose because we couldn’t afford cats and traps. We are now stuck with the F-35b that after years and years of testing still only has a tyre that lasts 8 landings, thanks Dunlop, plus the software issues not sorted yet. This just leads to another myth, “deep strike” I hear people talk about it all the… Read more »


Last paragraph forgot the 2 or 3 growlers.


I don’t think the RN AEW capability based on Merlin Crowsnest will be that much inferior in detection range to Hawkeye if a task force positions River 2 OPVs and Type 31s as Merlin refuelling pads as the outer screen for a task force. Carrier strike range has been lagging behind defensive AShM capabilities for many years. Bring back the Buccaneers? I think F-35B has a strike radius comparable to existing US F-18F ships. Overall,though I agree we won’t be doing ‘deep strike’ without US support. As to why we chose stvol I think it was a just an evolition… Read more »


@Chris. Yes, the politics and costs made it a choice between a one CTOL carrier navy with the FAA sharing aircraft ( Rafale or F-18) and training with CDG versus a 2 carrier sovereign UK STOVL capability with FAA training costs defrayed by sharing aircraft and training costs with the RAF ( and maybe the USMC).
I think the jury is still out as to whether the extra range of F-35C is sufficient for the US to exert dominance in the Pacific. They may conclude that a larger number of B equipped USS Americas is the way to go.


Merlin vs Hawkeye

Speed 192mph vs 402mph
Range 450nmi vs 1,462nmi
Altitude 15,000ft vs 34,700ft

Detection range it’s altitude that matters in that game, stick crowsnest twice as high and it will see a lot further.

Also the US has Air refueling for it’s f 18’s so combat radius much bigger than f 35b.

Was a terrible decision for our Navy, with a lot of factors like you say.

Derek Green

A Carrier Group has a host of ancillary assets to support it. It will not sail without some ‘World Class’ aircraft and undersea support. It does NOT only rely on CIWS and Crowsnest other than routine operations – they are BOTH fallback positions in the ‘Oh my God, it’s all gone apeshit very suddenly’ scenario. Otherwise, with planning, we actually do have ‘World Class’ support for a CSG.


It would have helped this article if this story from Janes had been included:
“Airbus has formally presented its bid to replace the Luftwaffe’s Panavia Tornado combat aircraft with the Eurofighter Typhoon to the German government. Under the bid, which was released on 24 April on the eve of the ILA Airshow in Berlin, the Eurofighter consortium would deliver additional Typhoon jets to the Luftwaffe from about 2025 for a seamless transition with the Tornado retirement planned for 2030. The Luftwaffe currently fields 130 Typhoons and 90 Tornados.”

Steve M

It all falls into place. They simply want sales.


Good spot. I think the Germans will go for Typhoon for the German jobs it creates.


For the UK either is good, we have work share in both the Eurofighter and F35. But F35 would throw the French/German future fighter into the weeds. France would need to replace Rafale at some point but the Germans would be OK with F35 out to 2050 as it will get new weapons and engine updates, so could delay 6th gen fighter project for some time. It may also refocus Frances attention on the UK Future Air Combat System. If Germany and France do go ahead then UK should join, then pull out an go it alone or with another… Read more »

Stuart Willard

Britain has no requirement for such an aircraft, the timescale not go mention the requisite costs, would be all wrong for any such collaboration. After all the requirement the Germans urgently need need is the exact one we are buying the F35 10 years earlier for ie replacing Tornados. Personally I think if we were interested in something of that nature ie a 5th gen aircraft, without VSTOL, cooperation with the Japanese would be a more worthwhile collaboration building upon the present cooperation if such a jet can combine the advantages of Typhoon with the stealth of F35 … Assuming… Read more »


Haha…The French tail trying to wag the German dog.

Daniele Mandelli


Lee H

Afternoon all
Couple of points to cover:
Typhoon vs F-35A
Politicians want Typhoon (jobs, industrial base, relations with Europe etc)
Air Force professionals want F-35A (combat effect, survivability, ratio of combat effectiveness against perceived future enemy)
Janes report that Belgium want Rafale.
U.K. Govt leads Typhoon bid to Belgium and offered access and training to U.K. UKIC. – Typhoon combat aircraft also included as part of HMG offer.

On both scenarios which looks like it will offer the customer nation more?


The US can offer nukes for the F-35’s to carry.


Imagine a Typhoon 2, with the new 30% more powerful thrust vectoring engines, redesigned reduced radar cross section, Easa radar and the sensors/cockpit and situational awareness of an F35.
Now that would be something that would win export sales aplenty.


If typhoon partner nations don’t buy it then why would any other nation. F35 is more capable but comes with fewer secondary benefits, such as single support and training arrangements. For a country with so little appetite to intervene abroad militarily, perhaps the secondary benefits tip the balance.

Daniel Powell

there a go again…

German make mess twice in tornado and typhoon, now it is potenial 3rd time mess up with other European countries to cause price soar up and expensive projects for both…

would be nice see German-France Multiroles stealth warplanes indeed f35.

John Hartley

In a decade, the F-35 might be the only Western fighter jet in production. Is that wise? If there was any sense in our global political elite, France, Germany, UK, Turkey, South Korea & Japan would have come together to make a scaled down F-22 look alike, using engines, AESA, etc from tranche 3 Typhoon.
For Germany, a small order of F-35A (15-20) would keep their nuclear delivery capability, & give them time to see if a new French/German or wider Western fighter can become a reality.

Lee H

Drawings and concept only.
Still reliant on US aircraft and allied technologies – one for the future


South Korea, dark horse…

Lee H

Turkey are trying to do the same, but all using either US or U.K. technology – we might not be designing and building our own jets anymore but we are providing technology to those that want to. These nations like to have diversity in supply chain so as not to be too tied to ITAR

John Hartley

Given that all the countries I mentioned have budget issues, it seems mad they should pursue separate projects for what are very similar designs. Any common sense would merge all these projects into one.

Lee H

Evening all Couple of things about cost of carriers CTOL vs VSTOL: It made very little sense to build a CTOL aircraft carrier with legacy steam plant cats and traps. HMG was caught between technologies and couldn’t either afford or politically sell a nuclear powered carrier that could have generated the steam required. EMALS technology was talked about and in the late 2000’s it was believed that the technology was viable on a conventionally powered carrier at extra cost. This cost would have been covered by the cheaper F-35C that the RN and RAF Would purchase instead. Cost is measured… Read more »


(Chris H) Lee – You are basically correct again. As I recall when the carriers were first authorised in the early 2000s it was a case of “STOVL with passive capability for later CATOBAR”. Then in 2010 with a change of Government and a hard (very hard) SDSR in the light of our appalling economic situation Cameron did look very closely at CATOBAR / F-35C but while the UK EMCATS was quite a proven system and could have run with conventional power plants it was thought the UK EMALS system was the more viable option given the USA were fitting… Read more »


“provided the right political answer at the right cost at the right time.” The defence of the country should not be decided on what’s right for the current political party hitting unrealistic fiscal targets. “It made very little sense to build a CTOL aircraft carrier with legacy steam plant cats and traps” Little sense to who, the system works absolutely fine, when the US start fitting their ships with lasers for point defence shall we just chuck all our phalanx in the sea because they are now “legacy” and incidentally China’s third carrier has emals and it isn’t nuclear powered,… Read more »


Just read Chris comment above.

I wrote “but the technology was there to be found, we didn’t even try look, as the country that pioneered carrier aviation that stinks.”

I take that statement back, I did not know about the UK EMCATS system, in my defence I was only 14 at the time.

Although that annoys me even further, the tech was there and from what I have just read the tech is sound.

Lee H

Evening SoleSurvivor Defence of the country is not just about the military hardware we buy. A risk assessment was completed at the time and it was decided, whether right or wrong, to go with VSTOL over CTOL with EMALS. Chris(H) makes valid points with regards to EMCATS but the US are moving forward with EMALS, to sustain the cost of maintenance and support of the EMCATS system over the whole life of the system (50 years) would not be value for money. Remember Nimrod and Harrier were also cut in the same timeframe, choices were made based on the economic… Read more »


Hi Lee No need for you to articulate further, I perhaps never gave enough detail in my initial response as i thought you would of knew what I meant. In regards to fast jets and missiles tight turning, a missile can not turn as tight as a jet because you measure the g they can both turn on vs the speed difference squared, so while a missile can turn at 40,50 or 60g, it’s going that fast that it will be a wider turn, the Typhoon has a better tighter pull rate than any missile on the market, especially BVR… Read more »

Lee H

Morning Okay, so BVRAAM and SRAAM. Whilst articles on the internet are great at explaining things like engagement of AAM at beyond visual range: https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/defenseissues.net/2013/08/17/evading-air-to-air-missile/amp/ Couple of things: BVRAAM engagements, when used in the U.K. context are mostly utilised and deployed to deter and prosecute large targets at range before they can deploy their weapon payload. In the 80’s and 90’s this was demonstrated by the use of the Phantom and Tornado F3 armed with long range radars and the Sky Flash medium range AAM. The USN employed the F-14 and the AIM-54 and the USAF the F-15 and Sparrow… Read more »


Morning Lee Yes I used an internet article for my information, and seen as you thought that because you read somewhere that AAM can turn at 50g etc and you know jets turn on single digits so the missile must be better at turning, when it clearly is not, prove to me that you must use second hand information like myself because you have no first hand experience in the field otherwise you would of known that surely, although I could be wrong and you might come back saying you’re an ex RAF pilot, which then I would apologize. Which… Read more »


Germany has been very happy to but USA aircraft since the end of WW2. Sabres, Starfighters, Phantoms etc.
I’m always amazed that the nation that pioneered & operated aircraft carriers for decades suddenly found itself unable to do cats & traps. There’s pro’s & con’s to CATOBAR & VSTOL, but we’re now wedded to VSTOL for another generation. Couldn’t the Osprey be used for in-flight refueling & operate from our QEs decks? Also could it not similarly make a better AEW platform?

John S

Osprey operating from QE class a great idea IMO, speed and range being the obvious advantages…though as an AEW platform, wouldn’t a large rotating radome be an issue in hover mode—is there a design/technology alternative to the top mounted radome available?


Sorry, buy USA aircraft.


Can still happen. No secret the RN would like some Ospreys. Even specified that the Type 26 flying deck should be capable of landing them.

Bill Edmead

This forum provides real very interesting facts and expertise for poorer less informed enthusiasts like yours truly. I try and add my own two penneth worth every now and then. The overriding grump I have is the “fantasy wishlist” of huge amounts of aircraft and ships that people routinely write about that the UK should have! For once and for all smell the coffee! NO more than 4 frontline F-35 sqdns in the next 15 years!! Read it and weep! This is where we are. This is the huge power projection of the future UK joint FAA/RAF notwithstanding the MOD’s… Read more »


You mean no more than two F-35 squadrons over the next 15 years.


Well well well — Turns out Franco German Airbus and French Dassault have joined forces to build the next ‘Eurofighter’. And apparently this will be part of a range of aircraft, drones and systems. Note that well: ‘Drones’. So basically we allowed BAE to share all there Taranis and other UCAV research and developments with Dassault and now they have buggered off and taken it all to Airbus. A couple of hundred million quid and 8 years research all now in the hands of our competitors. Forgive me saying this but “I told you so!”. NEVER EVER TRUST THE FRENCH.… Read more »


(Chris H) – Sorry. To keep the spelling gurus happy that should have been ‘their’ not ‘there’….. I should also have mentioned that these two will decide ‘if they want to let BAE join the work’ at a later date


If the French and Germans are talking about going it alone, maybe we should be joining forces with the Swedish who already produce a fantastic aircraft with a good percentage of uk content and avoid the Franco-German bullshit of letting them take all the hard work we have done and saying bye we’ve got what we want now we’re doing it on our own.

Nigel Collins

A very plausible option.


Plausible except that Sweden’s neutrality would be a problem in certain sales areas for the UK just as our veto on UK equipment used in Viggen barred it from sales to certain countries. Not sure what the future is for a Typhoon replacement other than BAE creating a ‘Typhoon II’ from the good parts of what we already have (Canards, brilliant wing, CAPTOR -E radar, HUD, Sensor suite, magnificent engines) and adding something similar to the rear end of the twin tail of the F-35 that BAE designed and developed. Add in an RR limited vectored thrust system as we… Read more »


If we’re talking air to air engagements within visual range the Asraam has the Sidewinder beat for a couple of reasons. Firstly the pilot can cue the missile without locking on the missiles seeker head by using an aiming recticul on his helmet display. Secondly the Asraam can carry out over the shoulder engagements. The UK as part of the weapons integration program will have Asraam on the wing as well as in the internal bay of the F35B. The Meteor will completely replace Amraam in UK service. It can carry out within visual range to beyond visual range engagements… Read more »