Germany’s Purchasing of F-35 Jets Would’ve Been 'Affront' to France – AfD MP

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F-35 - Sputnik International
Germany will not be buying Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets as a replacement for the country’s existing fleet of Tornados. It will now have to pick between Airbus’ Eurofighter and Boeing’s F/A-18. The German Defence Ministry confirmed that the American-made F-35 jet is out of the multi-billion euro tender.

Christian Weiland, a former Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party member in Bad Kreuznach, told Sputnik that Berlin making this decision shows that it wants to strengthen the European market.  

“Presumably Germany wants to define European ‘sovereignty’ more clearly and clearly state that it wants to preserve sovereignty in defence and space. Maybe that's the reason regarding the F-35 tender. The effects are not clear, I suspect that it reduces the sales of manufacturers. The exact development remains to be seen. It is quite possible that Europe wants to become more independent of the USA. I think that's a wrong step. In particular, economically the US is a good trading partner. An economy always consists of buying and selling,” Mr. Weiland explained.

READ MORE: Germany Says Nein to US F-35 Jets, to Choose Between Boeing and Airbus – Report

Meanwhile, AfD politician Jan Nolte, who represents the party in the Bundestag and serves as a member of the chamber’s defence committee, told Sputnik that money may also be a factor influencing Germany's decision.

“The German government bases its decisions apparently only on financial factors. The F/A 18 is much older than the F-35 and not a pure stealth capable jet, so it doesn’t have the modern, state of the art characteristics of the F-35, for example.”

German officials said the defence ministry has requested additional information from Boeing and Airbus on their planes ahead of its final decision, as the aircraft has to be certified to carry US nuclear weapons. 

"The purchase of a tactical bomber based on the Eurofighter carries additional risks. For example, it is unclear whether the US will certify this product as a carrier for American nuclear weapons," Jan Nolte explained. 

According to the politician, another factor influencing Germany's decision is its joint plans with France to develop a next-generation Franco-German “Future Combat Air System” (FCAS) between 2035 and 2040.

"I believe the federal government wants to install until the development of the FCAS only a minimal solution, in order not to lose the atomic participation. That’s the reason why they opted for a cheaper or own [European] product,” Mr. Nolte added.

Elaborating, he said, “Decisions in the international arena are always connected with considerations. If Germany had chosen the F-35 from Lockheed, it would have been an affront for France and endangered the FCAS project.”

READ MORE: Is Joint German-French Combat Jet Project on Verge of Collapse?

While some experts argue that the decision by Berlin is a big blow to F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin, Mr. Nolte believes that it won't hurt the company too much: 

“Of course, every customer counts, but in the case of the F-35, the US is on its way to getting an export hit. Meanwhile, customers include Italy, Israel and the United Kingdom, among others, while Singapore and Canada are considering purchasing the warplane. The sale of high volumes is already having a very positive effect on the price. So, Germany’s decision can certainly be tolerated,” Nolte explained.

Another AfD Bundestag MP, Steffen Kotré, said that the type of aircraft Germany will acquire is an issue of secondary importance, given the dire state of Germany's Armed Forces.

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“I don’t believe that the decision will have a major impact on Germany’s national security. In fact, we are talking about side topics. The German Bundeswehr [armed forces] faces huge challenges. At the moment much too little citizens apply for military service. So of course we can talk about buying new aircrafts but I wonder who will be flying them.” 

The AfD MP also added that there needs to be a serious discussion about the intended purpose of the Bundeswehr in general:

“If Germany wants to compete with its allies we need to be willing to spend much more money on military. But that’s just one side of the medal. The other side is that the German Cabinet and most of the other parties in the Bundestag deny our forces proper respect and appreciation. That’s one of the reasons why the Bundeswehr faces staff shortages,” Mr. Kotré concluded.

Earlier, Lockheed said it had not yet been officially notified of German Defence Ministry's decision to remove the F-35 from consideration. 

Views and opinions, expressed in the article are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

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