Bill for German F-35 Lightning IIs just went up by €2 billion

BERLIN ($1=0.96 Euros) — Bad news for German taxpayers. In less than 12 months, the maximum price initially announced for the acquisition of fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighters from Berlin has increased by more than €2 billion. In the coming weeks, the acquisition of American fighter jets will be discussed. It will be held by the German Budget Committee and, according to German sources, will last two weeks.

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet
Photo by Lance cpl. Jose S.Guerrero Deleon

The US has not yet sought congressional approval to sell F-35s to Germany. But Washington gave its consent last year, recalls At the time, the preliminary assessment was that Berlin would have to pay nearly 8.7 billion euros to Washington. The price includes not only the acquisition of the combat aircraft but also their armament, maintenance, related items, and services.

Very often, such accounts match completely. The US prefers to give a maximum purchase value. Това ensures that if the customer changes their mind, it will fall within the scope of this special offer. Today, however, the situation is already different. According to aviation experts in the field, the 35 German F-35s will cost around 10.2 billion euros.

New infrastructure

However, Berlin will pay a lot more to afford the luxury of Lockheed Martin’s stealth fighter. Additional funds will be invested in the renovation of the Büchel military base. The fighter jets are scheduled to be serviced there because the American B-61 nuclear weapons are located there. They are the reason why Berlin decided to buy the F-35. The aging fleet of Tornado fighter jets, which were Germany’s nuclear carriers, will in the future hand over this function to the F-35.

Accelerated timeline to get Germany's F-35 deal signed off
Photo credit: AviacionLine

However, Büchel’s infrastructure is not suited for the F-35. New constructions and renovation of the aging Büchel base are required, and expert comments have been heard in recent months in the German parliament.

“It was a mistake”

Against the background of the increased bill, the problem of industrial cooperation has not yet been resolved. This is a problem that wrote about. According to the German aerospace industry [BDLI], Berlin has not agreed to the participation of German companies in the maintenance, refurbishment, or servicing of combat aircraft. “It was a mistake,” the association said, referring to the F-35 purchase.

BDLI even gave an example that recent F-35 purchases negotiated with various European countries will receive local maintenance contracts. Even Switzerland, which is generally not such an active participant in international arms markets, managed to negotiate a $3 billion contract to service its aircraft.

The German publication Wirtschaft has published its latest report, which says that this order is a blow to the German arms industry. BDLI even commented on the actions of the German government and criticized it, noting that in Berlin they did not even think of an option in which the native local production would participate.

Italy will assemble 24 of the 36 Swiss F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters
Photo credit: Il Manifesto

One of the major players in aviation, Airbus also expressed its opinion. According to Wolfgang Schöder, managing director of Airbus Helicopters, such actions by the government threaten not only the existence of the domestic defense industry but also the technologies that have been developed locally in recent decades.

Schoeder made the announcement amid the fact that Berlin is ready to spend more than $16 billion on the F-35 and new CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.

Berlin will want industrial cooperation

However, Berlin promises that industrial cooperation will be discussed with American partners at a later stage, before signing the agreement. Discussions at the Budget Committee session scheduled for mid-December will discuss both the necessary investment in the Büchel base and the lack of German industrial participation before the treaty is signed. Currently, and not counting the reconstruction of the facilities that will house the aircraft, each German F35A is already estimated to cost the federal treasury just over 290 million euros.


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