US approves sale of 35 F-35A fighters to Germany for $8.4 billion

The United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved a potential Foreign Military Sale of 35 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to Germany, for an estimated amount of $8.4 billion, according to a notice published on July 28, 2022. The US Congress must now approve it. 

The aircraft would be the conventional take-off and landing variant called the F-35A. In addition to the 35 stealth fighters, the potential order also covers the same number of Pratt & Whitney F-135-PW-100 engines plus two spares, maintenance support, training, and an array of weaponry, including air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, as well as bombs.  

On March 14, 2022, the German Federal Ministry of Defence told parliament that it had decided on the F-35 as a possible replacement for the nuclear-capable Panavia Tornado. Thus, it will become the designated aircraft of the Luftwaffe to carry the 20 US-made B61 nuclear bombs stockpiled in Germany as part of NATO nuclear sharing. 

The nuclear certification for the F-35A is underway. In August 2021, the United States Air Force completed a first weapon system demonstration by dropping B61-12 Joint Test Assemblies (JTAs) from two F-35A jets.  

A deterrent nuclear mission usually requires the assistance of jamming capabilities to counter Anti-Access/Area Denial systems and penetrate enemy territory. In parallel to the F-35 order, the German government announced that an additional 15 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters in the ECR SEAD variant (for Electronic Combat Role – Suppression of Enemy Air Defences) would be ordered to take over the electronic warfare missions of the Tornado. 

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