Germany has snubbed British-backed Eurofighter jets in favour of a €10bn deal for US-made F-35 aircraft as it orders a fleet capable of carrying a nuclear arsenal.
The 35 planes will carry American atomic weapons based in Germany, replacing ageing Tornado warplanes.
It will be seen as a blow for the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is made by British manufacturer BAE Systems in partnership with Airbus and Italian company Leonardo.
The German parliament’s budget committee signed off the F-35 deal on Wednesday as part of a broader €100bn package of defence spending Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The three options prior to the government’s decision were the new F-35, made by Lockheed Martin, the F/A-18, made by Boeing and the Eurofighter.
Germany set a target of replacing the 1970s- era Tornados by 2030. It is understood that certifying the Typhoon to carry the 20 B-61 nuclear gravity bombs it houses as part of its Nato commitment would be unfeasible in the time allowed, while the F-35 is already capable of carrying newer versions of the bomb.
It will buy the larger, F-35A variant of the warplane which is designed to be flown from airfields.
The UK operates the B variant of the craft from its two Queen Elizabeth II class aircraft carriers, which are capable of short takeoff and vertical landing.
Berlin announced its intention to make the choice earlier this year, but it required parliamentary approval.