BERLIN — Germany will buy F-35 fighter jets manufactured in the U.S. in an effort to get its military back up to speed and ensure ability to honor its NATO commitments, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It was important that the solution be found quickly, which is why we decided, after careful consideration of all the options on the table, to initiate the procurement of F-35 aircrafts for the task of nuclear sharing,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in Berlin on Monday.
The minister, who didn’t specify how many jets Germany would buy, added that the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) it has been developing with France and Spain would also be continued.
“We are securing a strong German role in the future FCAS system, because … it remains our intention to gradually replace the Eurofighter with the next generation fighter FCAS from 2040 onward and to realize the tri-national FCAS program as an example of European cohesion,” she said.
According to earlier reports in German media about the F-35s, there were fears in Berlin that the American jets would be at odds with FCAS and therefore irritate Paris, where French President Emmanuel Macron has for years advocated Europe’s so-called strategic autonomy.
But Lambrecht said she reassured her French counterpart Florence Parly already last week, adding that “it is very important to us that we continue our cooperation in this area.”
Speaking alongside Lambrecht, the inspector general of the German Air Force, Ingo Gerhartz, said that considering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine, there was no other option but to buy F-35, which he called “the most modern combat aircraft in the world.”
Gerhartz added that the F-35’s availability on the market was an important aspect because Germany is rushing to modernize its armed forces after years of neglect and failing to meet the NATO defense spending target of 2 percent of GDP.