Germany to order 45 US jets to replace 1970s’ Tornados, report says

A U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet takes off from RAF Lakenheath, England, in October 2018, during an exercise. The German military will buy 30 American Super Hornets and 15 F-18 Growlers to replace what remains of its aging fleet of Tornado jets, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday, April 19, 2020.



KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Germany will buy 45 fighter aircraft from the United States to replace its aging Tornado fighter-bombers, a German media report said.

In an email sent last week to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Berlin has decided to buy 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 15 EA-18G Growlers to replace its 45 Tornados, Der Spiegel news magazine reported Sunday. The Super Hornet and Growler are made by American manufacturer Boeing.

Neither the German nor U.S. government immediately confirmed Spiegel’s report Monday.

It was unclear if the German air force would procure only the U.S. aircraft or if it planned to also purchase Eurofighter Typhoons, made by a consortium led by Airbus.

During a visit to Washington in September, Kramp-Karrenbauer said the aircraft chosen to replace the Tornado, which has been in service since the 1970s, must “seamlessly” fill the aging fleet’s dual role — serving as a fighter-bomber in conventional warfare and maintaining the capability to carry the American B61 nuclear gravity bomb, the German Council for Foreign Policy said in a February brief.

Although none of the jets in the running to replace the Tornado are dual capability aircraft, the U.S. government told the Germans that the U.S. fighter jet could be certified more rapidly than the Typhoon to carry the B61, as required by NATO, several media reports said last month.

The Growlers, which have “sensors that can shut down an adversary’s ground radars during aerial operations,” would replace the Tornados’ electronic warfare capabilities, Spiegel said.

The Tornado’s replacement would be a stopgap measure before the planned introduction in the next decade of the Future Combat Air System, a sixth-generation multirole jet made by a consortium of French, Spanish and German companies.