Things like to change fast in the aviation world which is no wonder – fast jests are fast and so the situation has to also be dynamic 😉
For a while we thought that everything is moving in the F-35 direction. In July Pentagon has briefed Germans about the F-35 and later German official said it clearly that the JSF is the preferred way.
Things were looking good for Lockheed Martin and the rest of the potential buyers — the more the merrier because of the eventual price drop down. Then the news broke that Germany prefers Eurofighter Typhoon over the F-35 but it still it considers the F-15, F-18 and F-35 as a secondary option.
How to read the whole story? Depends where you sit. From my chair it looks like this:
First the F-35 isn’t there yet. At some point it will reach it’s full potential and I’m not talking about the stealth aspect. Considering the development of new radars which eventually will allow to detect today’s stealthy machines this aspect is no longer a key one. The technology is known for years but it has to be miniaturized and inserted on aircraft. But it’s there. Also the good old radars can give you at least some idea of the fighter location. But let’s leave the radars as it’s out of scope in this text.
Comparing Eurofighter with F-35 has no sense – it’s like comparing two cars from different generations which on top of that were build for different roles. This leaves us with the good old politics. There is a clearly visible tension between USA and Germany in many areas. The Pacific pivot has also changed many things. Germany is a leader in Europe and wants it to stay like this.
Eurofighter is also made in Germany and this means they need new orders to sustain the production line. Tornado replacement program seems like a good idea to push the production further. This would allow to save the highly skilled workers in the industry and push further development of multi national next generation fighter.
There is also the threat factor. Does Germany really need a stealthy aircraft to defend the home land? To the west there is France – part of NATO and EU, they even have a joint C-130 unit. To the south there is Switzerland, a neutral country, to the east there is Poland part of NATO and EU and to the north is Denmark which also poses no threat for Germany. So lets look further. Italy? UK? Norway? Let’s be serious. There is always Russia but considering very good relationship between the two countries it can be classified only as a semi threat. Don’t listen to media babling. Sniff the plain good old money traces. You will see many cooperation and bilateral deals between the two countries and their companies (Yes I’m pointing at North Stream and North Stream II).
Although it would be nice to have new tech, from Germany’s perspective the situation might look more interesting when they stay with the Eurofighter. Germans are known to be smart when it comes to counting and doing business. Maybe they just did that?
Disclaimer: I’m not paid by Eurofighter although it likes to bombard me with news about their aircraft. This view is my own and does not reflect any company for which I work. There. My first disclaimer ever on this blog 😉