Publié le 16/03/2022
US Air Force Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter, Paris Air Show 2017

Paul MAURICE, quoted by Peter Hille in Deutsche Welle

Germany wants to upgrade its military with the world's most modern fighter jet. The order is worth billions. But is it a good fit?

The F-35 Lightning II is considered the most modern fighter jet in the world. The jet, made by US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, is considered more than just a fighter aircraft. It is essentially an armed computer with a jet engine that can network with other aircraft in the air as well as ground forces, processing thousands of pieces of information every second.

But is it the right jet for the Bundeswehr? Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) announced on Monday that Germany wants to buy 35 such jets to replace the Tornado fighter jets put into service more than 40 years ago, which, like the F-35, can carry American atomic bombs to their target.


The UK, Italy, the Netherlands, and, most recently, Finland and Switzerland have opted for the F-35. For them, air defense cooperation with Germany could become easier.

  • "In France, on the other hand, the decision has been met with frustration," says Paul Maurice, a researcher at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris. "The F-35 is understood here as a symbol of US power within NATO. After all the speeches about European autonomy and sovereignty, one had expected Germany to be more aligned with a European arms policy."

After all, he said, what would happen if the US withdrew forces from Europe, as happened under President Donald Trump?

  • "That could happen with the next president, but also already after the midterm elections," Maurice says. Europe needed to be prepared for such a development and become more autonomous in security matters, he adds. "That takes ten, fifteen years of preparation, so it needs to start now."

A future for FCAS?

In France, there are fears that the purchase of the F-35 could jeopardize the Franco-German-Spanish FCAS, short for Future Combat Air System. The billion-dollar project is meant to develop a state-of-the-art European fighter by 2040 to replace the French Rafale and the German Eurofighter.

  • According to Maurice, the defense community in Paris is currently asking themselves: "Will Germany still need FCAS at all? Or are the F-35s perhaps not a transitional solution, but a long-term solution?"



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