The German parliament, the Bundestag, has reportedly approved the acquisition of more Typhoon fighter jets to arm the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force.
The contract has been awarded to Airbus for the purchase of 38 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, with the cost estimates indicating a figure of 5.4 billion euros. The variants ordered are the Tranche-3, which would replace the in-service Tranche-1 variant of the Typhoons.
The order is particularly beneficial for Airbus, affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The decision of the German Parliament to buy 38 Eurofighter, known as the Quadriga project, is a very strong message, not only for the German Air Force but also for Europe, in particular for European defense manufacturers.
More than 100,000 jobs are based on programs like this,” said Dirk Hoke, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defense and Space, in a video.
“Today’s commitment from @Team_Luftwaffe to purchase up to 38 @Eurofighter aircraft reinforces Typhoon’s role at the heart of European defense for decades to come. Our team in the UK stands ready to work alongside our partners across Europe to deliver on our commitments,” a Tweet from BAE Systems’ Air said commenting on the approval.
The new Tranche-3 Typhoons are a significant upgrade over the basic early Tranche-1 models, having conformal fuel tanks, fiber optic cabling and computer upgrade, AESA Radar, defensive system upgrades. AESA radars are considered crucial for any modern 4.5 generation fighter.
The German Air Force currently operates 141 Typhoons, a number reduced when two of its aircraft were lost in a mid-air collision. These are in service since August 2003.
According to the Aerotime Hub, the 38 fighters are the first installment of Germany’s long-term acquisition plan of 93 Typhoons from Airbus, 30 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, and 15 of the variant for electronic warfare, the EA-18G Growler.
The decisions on the remaining should be voted in the German parliament throughout 2021. As a member of the NATO nuclear sharing agreement, Germany has to maintain a fleet of fighter jets capable of carrying out a nuclear strike.
Certifying the Typhoon for such missions was considered for some time. But the process was too long as the nuclear-capable Panavia Tornados are set to retire between 2025 to 2030. Some experts believe that the US compelled Germany to opt for the American F-18 Super Hornets as a replacement for the aging Tornado.
It is also said that the decision to choose the Typhoons and Super Hornets over Lockheed Martin’s F-35 would ensure the European defense manufacturing sovereignty.
One of the main reasons for Germany to choose the Eurofighter Typhoon over the F-35 was the wish to retain intellectual property of the aircraft, electronic systems, and weapons within the country. The Eurofighter- National Test & Evaluation Center will enable it to do just that.
It would also help maintain its relations with France, which is always at a competition with the United States over arms sales. Dassault and Airbus are also collaborating on a project to make a new generation fighter aircraft to replace the Typhoons and Rafales in service with the respective nations.