COLOGNE, Germany — The French Armed Force Ministry has offered four Breguet Atlantic 2 planes to plug a looming gap in the German Navy’s anti-submarine capabilities, provided that Berlin springs for modernizing the planes.
“Depending on Germany’s needs, the four planes could be sold once the update to Standard 6 will be taken in charge by Germany,” a French defense spokesperson wrote in an email to Defense News.
“The four planes will be at the latest aircraft standard which successfully passed the initial operational capability milestone of the French navy in 2020, with a range of high-tech equipment for maritime patrol missions,” the email read. “The proposal includes training and maintenance.”
The ministry declined to specify a price tag for the offer. Weapons and countermeasures would be “processed in a second step,” the email stated.
Driving the French offer is a desire to keep Germany connected to the future Maritime Airborne Warfare System that the two countries want to jointly develop for fielding around 2035. But the German sea service needs new planes by 2025, the year the current P-3 Orion fleet is slated to reach the end of its serviceable life.
Defense officials in Berlin have yet to make up their minds about which aircraft they plan to propose to lawmakers for funding in the decade between. A spokesman said a decision was due before parliament goes on recess for the summer in late June.
According to the French ministry, the Atlantic 2 offer is “based on operational cooperation,” with negotiations continuing between the two navies and civilian defense leadership.
A German Navy spokesman referred questions about the viability of the French offer to the Defence Ministry in Berlin.
Former German Navy chief Vice Adm. Andreas Krause, who retired in late March, had advocated for buying American-made P-8 Poseidon aircraft as an interim solution, citing on Twitter a mid-March Defense News story about the requisite Pentagon clearance for a sale.
The new service chief, Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach, has yet to speak on the issue, according to the service spokesman.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News.