Germany has reportedly removed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth aircraft as an option to replace its ageing Tornado fighter jets.
Citing unidentified German Defence Ministry sources, Reuters reported that the elimination of the F-35 means the Eurofighter and Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet will now compete for the deal.
Aircraft that are due to be procured will be required to carry US nuclear weapons in order to fulfil Germany’s obligations to Nato.
The ministry will seek detailed information from Boeing and Airbus about the aircraft before taking the final call on the potential replacement.
The selection process is expected to take time as the jets will have to be certified by the US Government to carry the nuclear weapons before it is finalised.
Germany’s fleet of operational Tornado jets stands at 85 units and not all of them possess the capability to carry nuclear weapons.
The country’s nuclear-capable Tornadoes entered service in 1983 and are set to retire after 2030.
Only ten out of the total number of Tornado jets are said to meet the Nato Response Force’s current requirements.
Last year, Reuters revealed that a defence ministry report said that the German Tornado fighter jets ‘may be unsuitable for Nato missions’.
The country is also planning to develop a new fighter in partnership with France. However, the project is not expected to be completed until at least 2040.
The Tornado aircraft features an advanced sensor and defensive aids suite to support low-level, deep-penetration missions in all weathers.
Eurofighter is a multi-role fighter jet manufactured by an Airbus-led consortium that also includes BAE Systems and Leonardo.