F-35 problems: Union accuses government of serious mistakes
12/04/2022, 7:16 p.m
The old Tornado fleet is finally to be replaced. But an internal letter from the Department of Defense points to a number of problems with the F-35. Sharp criticism comes from the Union – also to Minister Lambrecht. The Air Force Inspector, however, dismisses the idea.
After problems with the procurement of F-35 fighter jets became known, the Union faction of the federal government accused serious mistakes. The defense policy spokesman for the Union faction, Florian Hahn from the CSU, told the German Press Agency: “The troops and all of Germany only have to be ashamed of this new information. The question arises as to whether there is inability or intention behind it.” Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht from the SPD never identified with the new era proclaimed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. “My recommendation to the chancellor would be: Change the minister before it’s too late!”
“The chaos in procurement is becoming more and more grotesque,” said the budget spokesman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, Christian Haase of the CDU, the AFP news agency. “A proposal of such importance, which leaves open questions about its implementation, is unacceptable.” The open questions could have been clarified long ago since the decision to purchase the F-35 in March.
It had previously become known that the Federal Ministry of Defense warned of major risks in the planned procurement of the combat aircraft in an internal letter. The ministry cites, among other things, the necessary conversion of airfields for the F-35, high security requirements of the US seller and possible technical problems with the approval of the fighter jets for flight operations in Germany as risk factors. The purchase could therefore be delayed and more expensive.
Crisis meetings with householders
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense announced “close coordination” and “clarification of open questions” with Parliament. An “intensive risk analysis” is part of all procurement processes and should identify possible problems “at an early stage”. According to AFP information, there will be a crisis meeting in the Ministry of Defense with the housekeepers of the government factions on Monday afternoon. The problems with the F-35 procurement should be discussed, according to parliamentary circles. On December 14, the committee is then to release a tranche of the costs.
CDU foreign politician Roderich Kiesewetter questioned the decision to buy the F-35 as a whole. “The F-35 isn’t just about airfield and certification issues,” Kiesewetter told AFP. “It is completely questionable why the F-35 was chosen as the solution for the Tornado successor.” Defense Minister Lambrecht said that this was “not publicly understandable to this day”.
It would have been “wiser and more sensible” to order the F-18 fighter jets in the United States instead of the F-35 – as planned by Lambrecht’s predecessor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer from the CDU, Kiesewetter said. This “marketable solution” would be significantly cheaper and would correspond to the task profile,” said Kiesewetter, who is the spokesman for crisis prevention in the Union faction.
F-35 is for nuclear sharing
On the other hand, Air Force Inspector Ingo Gerhartz said via Twitter that Germany was looking for problems with the F-35 where other European nations saw none. “And neither do we. Is the air different there?”
But there was also criticism from the coalition. The SPD politician Andreas Schwarz, chief rapporteur on the defense budget committee, told the “Bild am Sonntag”: “It is unacceptable that Parliament is only now learning about the problems. I expect the ministry to provide comprehensive information on how the risks in want to get a grip on. Attempts are being made here to get rid of responsibility,” says Schwarz. “The schedule for the successor to the tornado must not be put in jeopardy,” said FDP budget expert Karsten Klein AFP. He called on Secretary of Defense Lambrecht to make the matter a “boss matter”.
The federal government had declared that it wanted to equip the Luftwaffe with F-35 stealth jets. The machines from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin are to be procured as the successor model to the Tornado fleet introduced more than 40 years ago. The F-35 is probably the most modern combat aircraft in the world and is also bought for Germany’s so-called nuclear participation – that is a deterrent concept of NATO, in which allies have access to US nuclear bombs. According to unconfirmed information, the last of these weapons in Germany are in special bunkers in Büchel.