Germany has decided in principle to purchase the U.S. fighter jet F-35 built by Lockheed Martin to replace its ageing Tornado fleet, according to reports on Monday.
The decision, if confirmed, comes after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz last month announced a massive boost in defense spending as the Ukraine conflict forces Berlin to reassess its foreign and defense policies.
Berlin is reportedly seeking to use the Lockheed Martin planes to replace the country’s Tornado fleet, introduced more than 40 years ago.
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Scholz said he would bring the nation’s investments above a key NATO commitment 2% of GDP.
The F-35 is considered the world’s most modern combat aircraft. Its unique shape and outer coating, make the jet difficult for enemy radar to detect.
At present, the Tornado is the only German jet capable of carrying US nuclear bombs, stored in Germany, in case of a conflict. However, the German airforce has been flying those planes since the 1980s, and they are due to be phased out between 2025 and 2030.
Announcing an increase in military spending, Chancellor Scholz said the German army would receive €100 billion ($113 billion) for investments and armament projects.
According to sources, Germany plans to buy up to 35 of the planes.
Concerns had previously arisen that buying the F-35 aircraft could scupper joint plans with France to build a joint European combat aircraft.