Germany has ruled out the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as an option to replace its Tornado fleet.

German officials have stressed that no decisions have been made with regards to the remaining competitors, the FA-18 and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space, had 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 was the F-35 but that did not “suit the CEO of the Airbus armaments division”.

According to the German business daily Handelsblatt, the government wants to stick to NATO’s nuclear weapon obligations despite plans to replace the Tornado jets that now fulfill these functions.

The Luftwaffe has about 45 Tornado jets designed to carry American nuclear bombs in the event of a crisis, at a key air base in Büchel, while the country’s other aircraft are incapable of fulfilling this task.

The US-made F-18 has already been certified for these missions.

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I wonder if this has anything to do with the two pilot rule, as we did when our Tornados had the capability, rather than a political manoeuvre? I believe our Sea Harriers also had the capability, but as that was single seater, I’m not sure how they got round the orders side of things.


It has to do with the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.


Single seat nuclear ops is not a limiting factor, as said Sea Harrier, Wasp and Jaguar all had nuclear tactical capability with the WE117. An interesting situation, looks to me like Typhoon, as Airbus will be just as hostile towards F18.

Meiron X

The marvellous Buccaneer did as well!


Yes, but the buccaneer was not single seat. But it was marvellous!

captain P Wash.

The Wasp was Two man Crew. Lovely sound.


They won’t be just as hostile to the FA-18, though. The problem with the F35 is that its projected service life overlaps the anticipated service life of FACS. Not so, the FA-18.

andy reeves

well done germany. obviously not swayed by the lockheed martin glossy brochure

captain P Wash.

So that leaves F18, Typhoon, SU37, J10 and Rafale. then !!!!

David Steeper

If they buy SU37 or J10 the brown stuff will well and truly hit the fan. My guess Typhoon.

captain P Wash.

I threw them In as a Red Herring !


Wasp did have a nominal 2 man crew, however for WE177 deployments it was single crewed, observer dumped along with cabin doors and floatation equipment.


It’s probably sensible for Germany to double down on Eurofighter, gives then a single fleet to manage with all the savings, they are not likely to be involved in any international intervention so the F35 probably does not sit with their key needs. This may keep the eurofighter production line going for quite some time, which will sit better with the German public, who never like to spend euros on their armed forces. It would be a win for us as keeping the Eurofighter production open is good for our sovereign ability as well, also gives us options on airframes… Read more »

Ian Skinner

Typhoon makes sense, as it is already in service with the Luftwaffe and it secures German jobs.


Theyve only got 4 availabe i believe anyway!

Mark B

Sorry guys but I’m going to mention the B word. When you are thinking about a European military then it is natural to eliminate non-EU competition in all areas. If they provide a first rate deterrent then we should all celebrate that. I’m not holding my breath.


You failed to mention “the B word”

Mark B

I didn’t say when. After a couple of drinks maybe.

C R J Lee

First choice F18 then Typhoon makes medium term sense. F35 an unnecessary generation jump for Germany.

Levi Goldsteinberg

So now which ever plane they buy, likely Typhoon, will be a plane whose replacement is already being planned? Absolutely nonsensical purchasing priorities, even more so considering how comparatively cheap F-35s are now


F-35’s successors are already being planned in the UK and Japan and the US wont be far behind.

Levi Goldsteinberg

No it isn’t, Tempest will be the successor to Typhoon, not Lightning

andy reeves

its not a major issue, ignore it.


They are bound to go for Typhoon especially if it keeps the production lines open. Final assembly will still be in Germany but it might encourage the UK to place a follow on order until tempest arrives.

andy reeves

tempest? won’t happen. just like the type 31 frigate the usual french/ u.k infighting will kill it before it gets off the boards its just a p.r stunt


Always going to happen once Merkel and Macron signed the love in deal to develop a european 5/6 gen fighter. I think they have narrowed it down to Eurofighter and the F-18.

Robert Marsden

From other articles read it seems that a split buy of F/A-18’s and Typhoons is being considered or alternatively Typhoons and retaining a small number of Tornado’s. Doubtful they’ll take the F-15 or Raffle as the Germans are already heavily invested in Typhoon.


Whether Tornadoes are retained or not will depend on if the US throws its toys out of the pram and refuses to certify Eurofighter to carry the warheads.

Rob Marsden

Think that’s why the split buy is on the cards, either keep the small number of Tornado’s or go down the split buy F/A-18’s both credible options with inherent benefits. F/A-18 seems like the more logical choice due to some of the collaborative weapons they can carry e.g. IRIS-T & Taurus are certified on both the Typhoon and F/A-18’s

andy reeves

stuff the u.s all they’re ever interested in is dollars


The only way this works is for Typhoon to bridge the gap to the next-gen Franco-German strike aircraft.

If F-35 is a “no no” then so should SH be.

Another more concerning outlier would be taking Rafale AND French nukes – a good EU partnership?

andy reeves

not going to happen


Crazy the German’s aren’t considering the latest version of the F-15E. Better than both the Typhoon and Super Hornet at ground attack and still an excellent interceptor with very long legs.

Andrew R

No other European nation operates its it though.

Andrew R

The F18 isn’t exactly cheap either. When factoring costs of training crew, buying all the equipment and aircraft you are probably looking at $85m per aircraft. Would depend on how many are ordered. The typhoon already has all the required equipment in service withe the German military.

Meiron X

Also the Typhoon is Not nuclear capable yet, UK and Italy could block the development of the Typhoon to be nuclear capable.

Paul T

Meiron X – any future Typhoon sales would be a bonus to both the UK and Italy,so why would they block the integration of Nuclear Weapons ?

Meiron X

Mostly like due to political reasons, if they do want to block, both UK and Italy wanting some concession from Germany. I am not saying they will, but might do.

Meiron X

I forgot to say Industrial rasions as well, control of Airbus and Leonardo


I think Germany as with the UK will struggle to keep Eurofighter lines open even if they do order a few more. The Franco-German 6th gen effort is slated to be in production by 2040, UK is targeting 2035, quite how Germany will manage keeping the expertise until then is a challenge. The problem is Europe didn’t take its defence seriously after the cold war and skipped a fighter generation and will now struggle. My moneys on the French being the only European country assembling fast jets by 2040, they’ll bag the assembly of the European effort. UK will elect… Read more »


Oi you bumblebee hater, leave the “vital to our food security” honey making, pollination queens alone…..the poor little loves.


No I’m completely holding you to your second sentence and in no way letting you wiggle out by the use of context or the rest of the paragraph.

And as for the comment about the honey costing £20, so your deflecting food price inflation and supermarket proffitering onto the poor little pollinators as well.

Mr bee hater……

captain P Wash.

The Dreaded “B” word rears It’s ugly head !

captain P Wash.

I opened a sealed bag of Broccoli on Sunday and a Bee flew out. It had been packaged In Spain, the poor thing made a b line for the open window, reckon he’s in for a long journey home.


The problem with Typhoon sales is that the jet is more expensive than F35 and roughly about the same operational costs per hour. Its not like other 4th gen jets which are now very cheap to buy and operate. They need to add more capability to the platform and somehow cut the costs so that the countries replacing legacy jets can have it as a viable option. At the moment its always going to loose out to F36, F18 et al.

andy reeves


John Hampson

I posted this on a general news site. Reposting here as it saves time. It is a generalised comment but it makes my point…… “Forget the propaganda. In Oct 2017 the Annual Report to Congress officially confirmed almost every system on the F35 was suffering serious fundamental faults. This report was not by a politician but by the Director of Operational Testing and Evaluation for the F35. But even if they get everything working,the F35 is irredeemably flawed. It can only carry 4 weapons internally, any more and it immediately loses its stealth. Its inability to dogfight is said to… Read more »

Steve M

Just a couple of points here. The 2017 report is out of date, the Pentagon agreed to fix the issues before going into full production in June 2018.

You have to take into account the fact that it can loiter at stand off ranges controlling drones etc, providing a huge force multiplier, even creating gaps in enemy air cover so that the bomb trucks can do their business.


*4 internal pylons. The only major limit is in an air dominance role, as it would be limited to 4 internal meteors, but some designs show asraams on outer external pylons so the reduction in RCS looks to be acceptable. For multi-role; it has the capacity for 8 spear 3 and 2 meteors, so I don’t see the problem with weapons capacity in contested airspace. Not to mention, there has been strategic discussion with using the F-35s as scouts to pass on target information to a stand off force of fourth gen aircraft who would engage the target at a… Read more »


Why can’t stealth missiles/bombs be developed that won’t compromise the airframe’s stealth when mounted under the wings?

andy reeves

I’D PREFER TO SEE THE uk TARaNIS STEALTH DRONE CONFIGURED TO CARRY ORDNANCE its big, stealthy an a good looking beastie


Slightly off subject however relevant: the Tempest programme confuses me, is it an equivalent to the privatly funded EAP technology demonstrator that went on to form the core of Eurofighter? is it a design for a new fighter? Or as I fear most, is it simply a mock-up of a future aspiration? Is anyone aware of any steps to producing a flying prototype? As I’m not aware of any mention of funding arrangements private or state.

Paul T

Basil – at this stage probably no-one actually knows,Tempest has been touted as an enhanced Typhoon on the one hand to a completely new Aircraft (akin to the mock-up) on the other,im sure in the coming years perhaps the end result will be much clearer.

captain P Wash.

A Model was shown at Farnborough last year together with a statement saying the UK would be investing £2 billion towards the project and a hoped for in service date of 2035. Other than that, I’ve not found any other news or details.
To my mind, It will probably be 20 years, which is a worry given the age of the Typhoons at that time.

Steve R

Which is why we should purchase more Typhoons now really; build more Tranche 3s to replace the Tranche 1s so that we don’t have any that are kept just for parts and then use the older T1s for that.

Would keep up the airframe numbers over the years instead of constant reductions as airframes get long in the tooth and then get scrapped. And also retain our aircraft design and manufacture skills until Tempest.

captain P Wash.

Yup, That’s just about how I see It Too.

Meirion X

There is No point in procuring more Typhoon now, they would just go into storage, because the RAF does not have the crews to fly them! The MoD have said they are keeping Tranche 1’s until 2030’s!
I do agree they will be obsolete beyond that time.

captain P Wash.

Cutting Aircraft numbers Is all part of the plan, If you haven’t got the Aircraft then You don’t need the Crew, Simples, It’s been In this downwards Spiral for decades now, I’d hate to see just how little we will have in twenty years. Of Everything.


I find it interesting, all these comments 4th gen, 5th gen, 6th gen, aircraft, stealth, non stealth etc. All high tech combat aircraft. Then I look at nations and the needs and requirements that they need. Lets think about Germany for a minute and I think that I could put Poland into the same bracket. What will they or do they need. Well to start with an air superiority fighter with a quick reaction time and able to climb quickly. It reminds me of the old Lightning specs. They will also need a tank buster that is able to loiter… Read more »

captain P Wash.

Yes, I agree.


Agree with perspective of Ron above. Typhoon with latest Centurion weapons looks like a perfect fit for the Germans, especially when Spear 3 and Captor-E are added. That said, I am unclear though about their NATO obligations regarding willingness and ability to deliver tactical nuclear warhead. Is there a technical reason why Eurofighter could not be certified to carry a nuclear warhead?

Meiron X

It requires special wiring and control equipment, from what I have read about. It all costs a lot of money with testing.


So not vanilla but doable. I assume Uk, Italy and Spain would see Germany paying 100% for the mods.

Paul T

Paul P/Meiron – on futher reading there is another potential problem with using the Typhoon,regardless of costs involved it would have implications for the subject of Intellectual Property,as whoever carries out the work to integrate the Weapons ( whether the work was carried out in Europe or the USA) would have to have access to all the Software the Typhoon uses,would all partner nations agree for this to happen ?

patrick goff

if BAe and government continue current policies we will have no defence industries left by 2030