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According to information provided by the dpa, there has been a political-industrial compromise for the succession of the Tornado. The plan, which Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer still has to agree to, envisages a mixed procurement.

For more than three decades, the Tornado weapon system, of which the Bundeswehr owns 93 systems, has been a major contributor to the Luftwaffe's ability to act against targets on the ground. Its tasks include:

  • Tactical Air Reconnaissance (TAR),
  • Support of own forces on the battlefield (Close Air Support, CAS),
  • Air Interdiction (AI),
  • Effect against enemy air forces on the ground (Offensive Counter Air, OCA),
  • Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD),
  • Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW),
  • Nuclear Participation.

According to reports, the compromise envisages that the Luftwaffe Tornados will be replaced by up to 90 Airbus Eurofighters and 45 Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets. Strictly speaking, the 90 Eurofighter aircraft would include 38 systems to replace Tranche 1 of the Eurofighter, so that formally only 52 Eurofighters would be procured to replace the Tornado. With the exception of the Electronic Combat, or SEAD, and Nuclear Participation, these systems would take over all remaining missions performed by the Tornado. The role of the Nuclear Participation, over according to the information of the dpa, would be taken over by 30 systems of the F/A-18 E/F. Additional 15 systems of the EA-18 G Growler version are supposed to take over the task of Electronic Combat, in this case the role of escort jammers.

The Luftwaffe would then have a total of 193 Eurofighter weapon systems and 45 Super Hornet/Growler weapon systems.

A long way with many hurdles

In the event that the reported compromise is correct and a selection decision is taken shortly to replace the Tornados by the "mixed procurement" mentioned above, this would not yet lead directly to the signing of a contract.

Initially, a selection decision would merely mean that the Federal Office for Procurement of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) would enter the realisation phase and conduct negotiations with representatives of industry on the concrete form of the contracts (costs, performance, timeframe, ...). After taking into account the complexity of the individual weapon systems, it can be assumed that this step will take some time, so that a discussion on the procurement of these systems in parliament (25 million draft) can realistically only be expected in the next legislative period. Depending on the outcome of the next election, combined with the resulting majority situation in the government and parliament, this could lead to the following results, among others:

  • Procurement as planned (thus no further delay).
  • Changes to individual points of procurement, e.g. quantity or capability adjustments (thus a delay would be expected or the Luftwaffe would have to give up some capabilities).
  • Stoppage of the entire procurement process (after the Tornadoes are phased out, the Luftwaffe would have to give up those capabilities that cannot be taken over by the Eurofighters already introduced).

Waldemar Geiger and Ulrich Renn