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Nein, thanks: Germany snubs F-35, new fighter choice still up in air

Discussion in 'Air Force & Aviation' started by Thüringer, Feb 2, 2019.

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  1. Thüringer

    Thüringer Member

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    Luftwaffe is not interested in the American F-35 jet as a replacement for its aging Tornado fleet, .

    Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation jet is no longer in the running for the contract, German officials confirmed on Thursday, also ruling out the older US-made F-15. The final decision on which jet makes it to the German air bases has not been made, however, as there are both political and operational factors under consideration.

    While the Luftwaffe is eager to replace its 80-some Tornado jets, in service since 1983, they are not quite desperate enough to opt for the expensive and troubled Lightning II.

    The Tornado, developed in the 1970s by an Anglo-Italian-German consortium, is fast approaching the end of its service life. Maintaining the existing planes is costing Germany billions of euros, which the defense ministry feels should be used to buy newer, better planes.

    The contest now pits aviation giants Boeing and Airbus against each other. Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, currently in service with the US Navy, is a reliable workhorse certified to carry US nuclear weapons that Germany is hosting under a NATO strategic posture arrangement. Incidentally, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan is a former Boeing executive.

    Airbus is the lead partner in the consortium making the Eurofighter Typhoon, a 1990s design in use with several NATO countries as well as Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, the US has yet to certify the jet for nuclear ordnance, which might work against its adoption by the Luftwaffe.

    Germany has expressed the desire to develop a fifth-generation fighter in cooperation with France, but that project is not supposed to kick off until the 2030s, while the Tornadoes will need to be retired by 2025.

    Last year, Lieutenant General Karl Müllner resigned as the Luftwaffe’s chief of staff - reportedly because his support for the American design clashed with the desire of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government for a “European solution.”

    Germany officially knocks F-35 out of competition to replace Tornado

     
  2. t68

    t68 Well-Known Member

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    This has been kicked around in a couple of other threads, but the last paragraph says it all "European solution" for which to a degree is hardly very surprising, as it was only a couple of years ago that the Euro wanted a joint French-German collaboration on a new fighter program.

    It would be interesting to see how much the integration of the strategic nuclear bomber role would cost compared to buying F35,and if Germany even wants to stay in the role. I fully understand the why they have chosen to drop F35 but as John Fedup says why has the Super Hornet not dropped as well its in the same boat as F35 it counter to the Euro solution as well.

    I also believe it sends subtle a message to Trump and to an extent the UK over Brexit that 1, we wont be bullied into buying American 2, shows the solidarity in the European Union in the face of UK withdrawal.

     
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  3. Thüringer

    Thüringer Member

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    As i see it the interest for the F35 was always fake. This could be seen when General Karl Müller, who spoke for the F35 got retired last year.

    Airbus is a german french company and i think the decission is basicly already made. Airbus said the certification for the "nuke capability" could me implemented without much efforts.

    As for nuclear bombs, well most people here want the american bombs out of Germany. It was even a topic in last election. Some conservatives even say in this mroe and mroe unsecure world, Germany should have its own.

    As it looks now there are various options.

    We might go fully Eurofighter and certify it.

    Of buy 90% Eurofighter and 10% hornets. Or there was even rumors that we go 100% Eurofighter and keep some old tornados for the nuclear capability.

    I agree with your remark about Trump. There was alot of attacks against Germany. And when you see how german public reacted, german politicians would have alot to explain if they would place such an order.
     
  4. Ananda

    Ananda Well-Known Member

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    Why I got the feeling in the end German will go 100% Eurofighter, before they go with French on whatever new gen that will come out as Eurofighter and Rafale replacement.

    What Trump and in lesser extent Brexit create is seems making German more French on defense matter. More independent Euro First in defense.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
  5. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    Reading up on the the Luftwaffes Eurofighter,s readiness levels suggests that its not the aircraft that are the problem , if the air force cannot maintain its aircraft why would you trust them with care and use of atomic weapons
     
  6. King Wally

    King Wally Member

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    It has the appearance that they are only keeping the Superhornet option on the table in order to maintain some leverage against the Eurofighter team. Keep them "honest" and "working" for the contract.
     
  7. Thüringer

    Thüringer Member

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    The Luftwaffe is not the problem. Our current government is. The defense ministry is run by an incompetent women followed by gargantuan corruption cases and McKinsey basicly ran the Luftwaffe into the ground. The troops have no respect for her and this leads to the fact, that the administration and the actual units of or military work against each other.

    Im sure that can be solved.
     
  8. oldsig127

    oldsig127 Active Member

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    Yeah, sure. This would of course, be a surprise to Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and (maybe) Turkey. Strong European solidarity indeed. Or just Franco-German self interest.

    In politics and economics, self interest holds sway.

    Shane
     
  9. StobieWan

    StobieWan Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I think it shows that Germany doesn't want to spend any money on defence to be honest - converting some of the Typhoon fleet to nuclear carriage is a half assed solution to a scenario that will mostly likely never occur, so they can hit the tick box and move on to something else.

    F-35 practically *is* a European program.given various partner involvements and the workshare. Nothing to do with Brexit, everything to do with Germany chronically underfunding defence spending and kicking decisions up the line/ They don't have spares for their existing Tiffy fleet, and almost everything else in inventory has a very poor availability rate. I doubt delivering B61 bombs is a priority.
     
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  10. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    I am uncertain if it is a desire to not spend money, or is more about being used to inject additional funding into domestic aerospace programmes with a "make work" project.

    The decision certainly does not seem like it was made so that a nuclear strike mission could be effectively carried out, unless at least air dominance has already been achieved. Realistically, I would expect that if air dominance was achieved, then justification for the use of nuclear warheads would have been eliminated.

    I strongly suspect that the Typhoon would not be a viable penetrating strike aircraft by the time 2040 comes around. Honestly, I would expect a Typhoon attempting a strike against a defended target well back from the front lines would have difficulties if standoff munitions were not available.

    As for the prospect of a joint Franco-German fighter... let us just say that I have a fair number of skeptical reservations about that notion. The fact that France was initially a part of the programme which led to the development of the Typhoon, but backed out and developed their own fighter the Rafale does not leave me with a good impression of who future conflicts over development and production decisions will be handled.

    Other areas I would be concerned about is what the likely cost and time to develop a replacement solution would be. An issue I have had with both the Typhoon and Rafale procurement and deployment decisions is that while the fighters are 4+ gen fighters, they came out at basically the tail end of the 4th generation, and therefore are likely expected to serve alongside (and possibly against) 5th gen fighters, all while being a half generation behind. With current US plans suggesting that the F-35 will see front line service into the 2040's possibly until 2050, it seems logical to think that the US would be planning on developing a 6th gen fighter capability of some sort for introduction either in the 2040's or early 2050's. Basically around the time it seems that the proposed Franco-German fighter would be introduced.

    What I would be concerned about in that regards is that with France and Germany starting "farther behind" as it were in fighter generation development, as well as likely having a smaller order book, then either the future Franco-Germany fighter is going to be less advanced when it is introduced (i.e. a 5th gen or 5.5 gen design in a 6th gen world) or that the cost to develop and produce the fighter will be significantly higher, or both.
     
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  11. Thüringer

    Thüringer Member

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    Well how would Germany profit from buying the F35? Which german corporations would profit from that and what technology transfer would Germany achieve with that?

    Fact is, the Eurofighter is partly build and developed in Germany. There is a sucessor program planned to be launched later on.

    Lockheed Martin knew they are osing and brought up, that Germany could elarn from the F35 for our own future project but how so?

    This has nothing to do with spending. Germany does rise its defense budget.

    Anotehr factor is Trumps behavior towards Germany. Constant attacks of him made it virtually impossible for Merkel to go into buying the F35, since that would be seen as "bowing" by the general public.

    Its a complex decission making process.
     
  12. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    Alternatively Japan which has been involved in developing a new jet fighter has announced plans for the purchase of the F35 in amounts to make it the second largest user of such.
    The initial costs of the F35 came from its ongoing development ,the costs of these aircraft are coming down and are likely less than the Eurofighter , but where is the future funding for this dreamed of Franco German fighter coming from ,also what is the timeline considering the Eurofighter took over twenty years to get where it is now .
     
  13. Thüringer

    Thüringer Member

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    I dont think that Germany should give up the ability to build advanced fighter jets itself. Same counts for France.

    By buying F35, Germany would lose its own knowledge about building such things.

    As for the funding, Germany had a 40 billion € budget surplus last year. I dont think funding is an issue here.

    Germany and also France must be able to build such jets because the times changed. Old alliances break apart. In case relations with USA break down, the F35 would become dead equipment. The Eurofighter allows independence from such things.

    Also its about renomee. Germany is one of the worlds elading weapon producers. What image is protraied outside, when Germany, a country famous for its engeering products, buys foreign?
     
  14. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    If money cant be committed to maintaining the majority of present aircraft and the concerns are that Germany is in danger of losing industrial know how because of lack of participation in the development of the F35 ,I would suggest the priority is wrong and that the first priority was to have a Luftwaffe that could meet its goals .
    The goals of the defence ministry should be a credible air force not the political expedience of subsidising the industries connected with it who seem to give the orders
     
  15. swerve

    swerve Super Moderator

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    Not enough money for spares might be a factor . . . . and that's due to the government.
     
  16. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    Might be a moot point until the U.S cerifies the Eurofighter capable of carrying the B61 bomb certainly the F35A has and since Luftwaffe aircraft flying over Germany can be targeted by the Kaliningrad air to air systems it would of made sense to acquire stealth aircraft now.
     
  17. Todjaeger

    Todjaeger Potstirrer

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    There are several issues as I see it. The first is that Germany does not have experience developing a 5th gen fighter. In point of fact, Germany has not to my recollection engaged in sole-source development of a combat jet since the Me 262, with every combat jet which has entered German service either being an imported design, imported aircraft, or a result of Germany participating in a multi-national consortium. What this suggests to me is that if Germany wanted to develop a new combat jet to meet specific German requirements, then outside help would likely be required to degree or another. If Germany was dependent on another nation (European or not) for part of the design and/or parts supply chain, then Germany would still be at risk in the event of a breakdown in international relations between Germany of the source country or countries, yes this applies to the Eurofighter as well. I believe the primary reason why so many of the European combat aircraft have been the work of one multi-national consortium or another is that European gov'ts recognized that their aspirations for combat capability plus the cost to sustain domestic fighter design and production capabilities, far exceeded what individual nations were either willing or able to pay, especially since the numbers required for service in different European nations was fairly low individually. One of the dangers of low numbers ordered for a design is that it results in a high overall price per aircraft since the developmental costs get factored in.

    The second is what the cost would be to develop a 5th gen or 6th gen fighter and whether Germany, or even a Franco-German consortium could reasonably afford it. Per a 2011 UK NAO report, the development and production costs to the UK for the Typhoon at the time were estimated at £20.2 bil. with the number expected to climb higher to £23 bil. And again, this is just the UK's share of the development and production costs for the Eurofighter. When one factors in the developmental costs paid by Germany, Italy and Spain, the total developmental costs for the Eurofighter would likely exceed that. To give an idea of costs, the US GAO estimated in a 2006 report that just the development and testing of the F-22 cost USD$32 bil. in FY2006 dollars. From a realistic standpoint, is Germany really in a position where it could and would pay €34 bil. or more to develop (not produce, just develop) a single new piece of military kit? Given what appear to be some fairly chronic funding shortages which have impacted the German Armed Forces, I would hazard a guess that is Germany has been running a €40 bil. surplus, the German gov't has other priorities.

    One of the last issues would be time, and by that I mean both how much time before the Tornado has to be replaced, how long could the Typhoon operate as a viable replacement for the Tornado in a strike role, and how long would it take a new German fighter to be developed and achieve service parity with the leading fighters of the time. A big issue I have had with the Typhoon is that it is an air superiority fighter which came out about two years before the F-22, yet lacks one of the major capability advantages the F-22 and F-35 has, namely LO. I could easily see a new joint Franco-German programme coming up with an advanced fighter, but due to costs and time, have the new fighter enter service just ahead of a later generation fighter entering service.
     
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  18. Thüringer

    Thüringer Member

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    The goal is independence from non european countries. Merkel highlighted in her speech last year, that the times of trusting USA are over.

    I see that decission in that light. Germany participated not in the F35 program. It is pretty much unacceptable to buy a jet without participation of german companies to build it.

    Lockheed Martin obviously notived that and started to talk about production in Germany, which did not change the opinion of devission makers. The stealth factor has become a debate issue here since it appears that some radar technologies can overcome it.

    A Luftwaffe that depends on non european hardware can hardly meet its goals if relations break down further.
     
  19. seaspear

    seaspear Member

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    Presently its the majority of the planes that have broken down and that cant be blamed on non European partners ,and previously France that was involved in the early stages of the European fighter went its own way with Rafale ,this though is not the first time France looked to its own industries over common ground .
     
  20. StingrayOZ

    StingrayOZ Well-Known Member

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    Buying a weapon and trusting another power to solve all of your security issues are really two very different things.

    If Germany really wanted, it could look at some local assembly and part production, and compete on contracts as the come up. This was Japans intention before they got desperate on delivery dates. The F-35 is a global project, under US leadership, there are multiple assembly points and part suppliers, Italy and the UK are two major players in the project. So it isn't exactly accurate to say its not a European plane, there is a global parts supply. There is a difference between the US doing 100% of the fighting in a war to protect another nation, and them selling a weapon system.

    Low observable is still relevant. Australia could detect headings and airspeed of B-2 bombers over Continental US airbases since the early 2000's. Doing so from a fighter platform to get a real time targeting solution is a whole different mater, and doing it at tactical distances to give you the upper hand is another level again. Low observable is just one of the "symptoms" of a 5th gen plane, not the core technology.

    Going down the Eurofighter hole again, is likely to be more problematic again, with less partners. France and Germany? Are they any closer now than when the original Eurofighter program was started?

    If you are in an actual conflict, good luck keeping that supply chain going all euro. How many German Eurofighters are operational today? How deep is the logistics channels for Tiger? At least with US equipment there is likely to be a steady supply if you want it during conflicts. Japan/Korea often makes local versions based on US equipment and pieces, so if in a conflict they need to expand production, many core technologies are available to drop in or replace locally produced components.

    Many countries are using the F-35 to augment their forces. So they might have a handful of F-35 squadrons, able to integrate into the US picture, or provide key first strike capabilities, with other fighters like Euro-fighters/F-15/F-18/F-16 etc providing 2nd capability.

    It seems instead of being reasonable and looking at it pragmatically, because things have changed, they are ditching anything US. Seems like a hard way to do things. Even China doesn't do that.

    For example the Type 052 destroyer - Wikipedia is fitted with US GM2500 engines.