Panavia Tornado
Panavia Tornado

The German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht is reportedly revisiting the German Air Force’s requirement to replace its 90 Panavia Tornados with a new aircraft.

In 2019, then-German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen proposed phasing out the aircraft during the 2020s to potentially be replaced by a mix of Eurofighter Typhoons and Boeing F-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. However, orders were never forthcoming for either option.

The German government is likely to be torn between its commitment to develop a Future Combat Air System (FCAS) with France, against the growing number of its NATO allies and regional European air force’s opting for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Two of the most recent countries to join the F-35 ownership list include the Finnish Air Force, which decided in December 2021 to replace its F-18 Hornets fleet with 64 F-35A Block 4 aircraft.

Earlier in June 2021, the Swiss Federal Council announced its decision to procure up to 36 F-35As to replace its existing own Northrop F-5 Tiger and F/A-18C/D Hornet aircraft.

In addition to the US Air Force, US Marines and US Navy, a host of other NATO operators of the F-35 variants include the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Norway, Poland and Belgium. The networking compatibility with so many of Germany’s allies would be a difficult benefit to ignore.

by Andrew Drwiega