Germany Worries About Plans to Buy 35 US F-35 Stealth Fighters, Why?

Posted By stdaily
Posted On December 7, 2022

Germany Worries About Plans to Buy 35 US F-35 Stealth Fighters, Why?

The German Ministry of Defense suddenly voiced serious concerns about plans to buy 35 units of F-35 stealth fighter jets made in the United States (US). In fact, Berlin had previously been excited about the plan on the grounds that it was wary of a nuclear-armed Russia.

Germany announced in March it would buy 35 of the fighters made by Lockheed Martin to replace its aging fleet of Tornado fighters. The announcement came after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But Germany’s Defense Ministry has suddenly voiced concern about delays and additional costs in its nearly €10 billion purchase of the aircraft.

Those concerns were expressed in a secret letter to the Parliamentary Budget Committee. According to the letter, there are risk factors that range from the increased work required at the airfields that will house the F-35s, to security requirements, and potential problems with approval for flight operations in Germany.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman said there would be “close cooperation” and “clarification” of the issue with Parliament. Parliamentary sources told AFP, reported Monday (5/12/2022), that there will be an emergency meeting Monday at the Defense Ministry, which will be attended by members of the Budget Committee from three parties in Germany’s ruling coalition. The committee is supposed to release the first tranche of funds for the project by December 14.

The classified letter seen by AFP was prepared by the Ministry of Finance for the Parliamentary Budget Committee, and based on an assessment by the Ministry of Defence. According to the letter, it is doubtful whether the necessary upgrades to the Buechel airbase, which will house the fighter jets, can be completed by 2026, when deliveries of the F-35 aircraft will begin.

“The current timeframe is very ambitious,” the letter read. “In addition, the security requirements of the US side are complex, which may lead to further delays and increased costs.” Still according to the letter, there was also a danger that approval for the F-35’s flight operations in Germany could not be obtained in time because the necessary documents were not available. This means, continued the letter, flights can only be operated with restrictions.

The letter pointed to other factors that could lead to rising costs, including inflation, fluctuations in the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro, and rising production costs. The cost of the fighter jets comes from a planned €100 billion investment for the armed forces, which was unveiled after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a bid to overhaul Germany’s underfunded military.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said last week he wanted the contract for the F-35, considered the world’s most modern combat aircraft, to be finalized by the end of this year.

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