German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is looking to procure the new Eurofighter Typhoons and F-18 Super Hornets to bridge the gap between their 40-year-old Panavia Tornado fighters and the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
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The German Air Force’s decision to split-buying the Typhoons along with the Boeing F-18 Super Hornets arises due to the need for their fighters to carry nuclear weapons to meet the requirements under the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and a German security whitepaper released in 2016.
A proposed number of 93 new European-built Typhoons and 45 Hornets will fill the 10-year gap between the latest date a successor is needed to replace Tornado and the 2040 target for the joint French, Spanish and German effort to build a next-generation FCAS.
With the Tornados leaving the service by the end of the decade, the armed forces can rest easy with the void being filled in by fighters boasting the ability to carry nuclear weapons.
According to the German ministry, in order “to be able to replace the Tornado in good time, the procurement process must, therefore, be started now”. The Typhoons are touted to ‘form the backbone of the Air Force’ with the F-18s temporarily replacing ‘few special skills’.
The ministry also states that the proposal will be submitted to parliament in 2022 or 2023 where it will make a final decision on whether to proceed with the split-buy. Reports also suggest that initial approaches have been made for the acquisition of F-18s from the US and for the procurement of Typhoons from the European consortium.