On the same day that Donald Trump lost the US election, it was also confirmed that Lockheed Martin also lost a very big contract.
According to the Eurasian Times, the German parliament, the Bundestag, reportedly approved the acquisition of 38 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from Airbus to arm the Luftwaffe, the German air force – rejecting the Lockheed Martin F-35 bid.
The variants ordered are the Tranche-3, which would replace the in-service Tranche-1 variant of the Typhoons, at a cost of €5.4 billion.
While Trump was expectedly ungracious in his response to Joe Biden’s clear-cut victory, surprisingly, so too was Lockheed Martin when the decision was first announced.
Both appear to be sore losers.
Germany’s decision not to buy the F-35 stealth fighter jet was labeled a “retrograde step” that could hamper the country’s ability to operate at the same level as its NATO partners, the European head of Lockheed Martin told Financial Times in April of 2019.
Jonathan Hoyle, vice-president for Europe at the US defense group, said the German decision to exclude the F-35 prompted questions among other European governments.
He alleged that during a recent visit to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization several ambassadors had expressed “disappointment” at the German decision.
“When we go off and collaborate together operationally, if you are flying stealth, fifth-generation jets, you don’t want a fourth-generation jet in the middle of your operations because everyone can see that,” he added.
Bad vibes aside, the German decision makes perfect sense.
The order is particularly beneficial for Airbus, affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The decision of the German parliament to buy 38 Eurofighters, 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,” said Dirk Hoke, chief executive of Airbus Defense and Space.
“More than 100,000 jobs are based on programs like this.”
Another reason 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, Eurasian Times reported.
The Eurofighter National Test and Evaluation Center will enable it to do just that.
It would also help maintain its relations with France, which is always in 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, Eurasian Times reported.
Last, the F-35 has been a financial disaster for the United States – it is being called the “trillion dollar mistake,” due to endless problems with the aircraft’s development and poor performance, as well as staggering costs.
The jet that was supposed to do it all reportedly does nothing well. It is also not as stealthy as advertised.
Meanwhile, 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 upgrades, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and defensive system upgrades.
AESA radars are considered crucial for any modern 4.5 generation fighter, Eurasian Times reported.
According to a Leonardo press release, the new radar features a revolutionary multi-function array (MFA) and more transmit-receive elements than any other AESA radar, “making Mk 2 the most capable fighter AESA radar in the world, maintaining the same power and precision of traditional radars but also enabling the simultaneous operation of its wide-band electronic warfare functionality.”
Contrary to Hoyle’s criticisms, the new Typhoons remain lethal jet fighters in any domain – a loyal and capable wingman to any NATO country.
The German air force currently operates 141 Typhoons, a number reduced when two of its aircraft were lost in a midair collision.
According to 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 aircraft will 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.
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 European defense manufacturing sovereignty, an important fact largely lost on US competitors.
Sources: The Aviationist, Financial Times, Eurasian Times, Aerotime Hub, Leonardo