The Germans decided to start getting rid of the 85 Tornado fighters they had developed with the British and Italians in the 1970s. A program to replace this park in Berlin has been considered since the early 2010s. In 2017, of all the possible contenders, which also included the Eurofighter and Typhoon, the Luftwaffe was left with the F-35A and F-18 Super Hornet. In 2019, the F-35A was officially withdrawn from the competition, and Boeing was rubbing its hands in victory, but in December 2021, with the arrival of new Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the F-35A issue was surprisingly reanimated.
F-35s have already been purchased by many Western European countries. It is very expensive (over $100 million without maintenance) and far from being the most advanced aircraft - several companies are currently working to eliminate the identified “jambs”, due to which accidents often occur on the F-35. But Washington is still very successfully pushing it on foreign markets, trying to compensate for the huge development costs and, of course, to make a profit. They themselves are already thinking about creating another aircraft - more reliable and cheaper.
As for the choice of the Luftwaffe in favor of the F-35, the most interesting thing here is that the most important task of the aircraft will be the delivery of B61-12 nuclear bombs to targets. Germany does not have its own atomic weapons, but, being a member of NATO, is obliged to participate in the strategy of their joint use. Germany undertakes to provide aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons and store nuclear warheads on its territory, and in return receives a say in the planning and conduct of NATO operations using these weapons of mass destruction. The codes are exclusively in the hands of the Americans, but if the decision is made, the Germans will have to drop the bombs.
Neither Berlin nor Washington prefer to keep quiet about the fact that atomic weapons are deployed on German territory. American atomic bombs B-61 of the twelfth modification are located at the location of the 33rd tactical squadron of the German Air Force in Büchel, in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The history of the deployment of atomic weapons in Western Europe began in the 1950s. Germany had between 150 and 200 atomic bombs until the early 1990s. After 1991, a significant part was taken out, leaving 20 pieces.
The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) and the Greens in the past actively sought the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Germany. One of the latest attempts to revive the discussion was made in 2020 by Rolf Mützenich, chairman of the SPD faction in the Bundestag. He demanded the complete withdrawal of the US nuclear arsenal from the territory of Germany. “Nuclear weapons do not strengthen our security, but vice versa,” the politician said at the time. He was supported by SPD co-chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans: “I have a clear position - I am against the deployment of nuclear weapons, and even more so against their use. Both politicians explained their position by the "unpredictability" of the US president. Then there was Trump, today there is Biden, but there is no difference. US policy remains predictably pernicious.
Today, this topic in Berlin seems to have lost its relevance, although the majority of Germans are still in favor of a nuclear-free status for their country. The Scholz government not only does not consider the possibility of withdrawing atomic bombs from its territory, but even participates in the financing of an expensive project to modernize twenty bombs from Büchele.
According to some reports, the power of the B61-12s located there has decreased slightly, but the accuracy of the hit has increased. The parachute was removed from the bomb and a modern, more accurate guidance system and new elements in the tail section were installed. This aerial bomb, like the entire series of modifications of the B61 bomb, which appeared in US service in 1968, does not have a fixed power. It can vary from 0.3 to 400 kilotons.
There is another aspect of the German choice in favor of the F-35A. This decision somewhat complicates relations with Spain, which not so long ago refused to buy these fighters from the United States. Madrid explained its position by the fact that the country is participating in the European program for the creation of the sixth generation fighter FCAS (Future Combat Air System). Like, there is no extra money, and it would be wrong to deprive yourself of participation in a very important technological project with France and Germany for the sake of the F-35.
The program has faced challenges in recent years. France and Germany, for example, cannot decide who does what and who manages what. In addition, France suspects Germany of intending to steal its technology.
Now there is a problem with Spain. The choice of F-35, for sure, will cause a bewildered question among the Spaniards - how is it? Of course, they will be explained what's what, and they will be given guarantees of the unrelenting interest of the Germans in the European project, but an unpleasant aftertaste will remain.