According to two government sources, Germany will buy F-35 fighter planes produced by Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) to replace its aging Tornado aircraft, with one source suggesting Berlin plans to buy up to 35 of the stealth fighters.
In early February, a German defense source told Reuters that Germany was leaning toward acquiring the F-35, but no final decision had been made.
In the event of a confrontation, the Tornado is the sole German jet capable of transporting US nuclear weapons kept in Germany.
However, the jet has been used by the air force since the 1980s, and Berlin intends to phase it out between 2025 and 2030.
The F-35 purchase will be a setback for Boeing (BA.N), whose F-18 was chosen to replace the Tornado by former German defense minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
The decision may also irritate France. Paris has been closely monitoring Germany’s discussions over the F-18 or the more modern F-35, fearful that a contract may jeopardize the development of a joint Franco-German fighter plane scheduled to be completed in the 2040s.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz endorsed the ongoing cooperative program with Paris two weeks ago.
Scholz also declared at the time that the Eurofighter jet, constructed by the Franco-German Airbus (AIR.PA), would be further enhanced to be capable of electronic warfare, a function that the Tornado also serves.