Reports say Germany will reduce the number of Eurofighter jets it will purchase. (Guenter Schiffmann / AFP)
Germany’s defense ministry is planning to reduce its order for Eurofighter jets from 180 to 143, according to media reports on Thursday.
National news agency DPA quoted “government sources” as saying that the ministry’s number two, Stephane Beemelmans, had informed parliament’s defense committee about the decision late Wednesday.
The reduction had already been decided in late 2011 by the then-Defence Minister Thomas de Maziere, the report said.
Out of the total order, more than 100 jets worth around €14 billion euros ($19.2 billion) have already been delivered, it added.
The defense ministry and manufacturer Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH did not comment on the report.
Beemelmans was fired from his post as secretary of state Thursday over a series of procurement problems, including of a scandal-tainted drone project, by new Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
Defence Committee chairman Hans-Peter Bartels meanwhile said Germany should further cut its Eurofighter fleet, according to business daily Handelsblatt.
“We should reduce the Euro Fighter fleet to 108 machines, that’s enough,” he said.
The Eurofighter consortium, Europe’s largest defense program, is in fierce competition with other fighter-jet makers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Dassault Aviation.
Industry players and analysts voiced little surprise over the reduced German order of Eurofighters, a joint project of the Airbus Group, BAE Systems and Italian defense group Finmeccanica.
Ian King, CEO of BAE Systems, when asked about the issue during a conference of analysts, said: “It’s not something that worries us.”
Edward Hunt, senior consultant at IHS Defence, said that “the decision not to acquire the 37 aircraft is not unexpected” and “has been on the cards for a while.”
“Germany has been focusing on other air force and defense requirements over the last 10 years or so and does not appear to consider its fast jet fleet as much of a priority,” he said.
Hunt added that the 37 aircraft of the canceled order, so-called Tranche 3Bs, “would have been the most advanced model yet and optimized for future higher-tempo air-to-air and strike operations”.
“It is worth noting, however, that none of the partner nations have definitely confirmed that they will receive the 3B models.”