Germany to Buy 20 More Eurofighters in Military Expansion

(Bloomberg) -- Germany will order an additional 20 Eurofighter aircraft, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced, as his government pushes ahead with a multi-billion euro program to strengthen the armed forces.

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The expansion of the Bundeswehr is part of the so-called “turning point” in German defense and security policy Scholz proclaimed immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a speech Wednesday at the ILA aerospace fair in Berlin, Scholz said that having a European and German defense sector that can provide sufficient weapons and ammunition is more important than ever before.

“I am strongly in favor of maintaining and expanding production capacities,” he said. “That is why we will order 20 more Eurofighters in this legislative period” ahead of the next national vote due in the fall of 2025. The purchase comes on top of an order of 38 aircraft still in the pipeline, Scholz added.

The cost of the aircraft — a joint project between the UK’s BAE Systems Plc, Airbus SE and Italy’s Leonardo SpA — will be as much as 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion), including logistics and maintenance, according to people familiar with the planning.

The defense ministry is expected to request approval from the parliamentary budget committee sometime next year ahead of the election, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing confidential information.

In his speech, Scholz reiterated his pledge that Germany will meet NATO’s defense-spending goal of 2% of gross domestic product over the longer term, even after a special €100 billion fund is exhausted after 2027.

How the government can achieve that given lower tax revenue projections and a strict constitutional limit on net new borrowing — known as the debt brake — remains to be seen.

The ruling coalition is currently negotiating next year’s budget, in which Defense Minister Boris Pistorius is the only cabinet member spared Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s belt tightening.

Germany’s defense industry lobbies published a joint statement Wednesday in which they said the special fund is still “far from sufficient to cover the Bundeswehr’s needs.”

Additional outlays in the regular federal defense budget totaling €100 billion will be required by 2028, they estimated. Options to mobilize the cash included another special fund, relaxing the debt-brake rules or “re-prioritizing” existing funds.

According to the Bundeswehr website, the German Luftwaffe currently has 138 Eurofighters, which form the “backbone” of the nation’s combat fleet.

(Updates with additional Scholz comments, industry statement)

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