There has been repeated fundamental criticism of the purchase of US stealth jets for the German armed forces. Now Greenpeace is following suit and is looking at reports of defects from the USA. Conclusion of the organization: There are enormous financial risks.
After evaluating official reports from the USA, the organization Greenpeace warns the federal government of the risks associated with the announced purchase of F-35 stealth jets. “Although the F-35 has been in service with the US Armed Forces for more than ten years, the aircraft continues to suffer from numerous problems and deficiencies, which are documented by the regular official reports from various US agencies and also by the work of civil society projects “, says the study, which was presented to the German Press Agency in Berlin on Thursday.
All F-35s produced and delivered to date – around 750 in number – are models from the so-called initial production, which do not yet have to meet all the requirements of a fully mature aircraft. Greenpeace lists the “current biggest problems” and writes: “According to a recent report by the US Court of Auditors, more and more F-35 planes have to be grounded because they don’t have a working engine.”
Fleet-wide, an F-35 was only fully operational less than 40 percent of the time on average – in the period 2014 to 2021. For the F-35A, the figure in 2021 was only 50 percent. In addition to the full, there is also a partial readiness for use. This is considered given if the aircraft can fly and fulfill at least one of the assigned tasks.
According to the US Court of Auditors, the F-35 recently had 826 defects, four of which were critical defects, writes Greenpeace. It is not publicly known which parts are affected and how badly. According to the responsible US testing authority, new deficiencies in the areas of weapons, sensor fusion, communication and navigation, cyber security and target acquisition were found in 2021. A large part of the difficulties can be traced back to problems in software development. The cost estimate for the announced German procurement of the F-35A is associated with many imponderables.
In March, the federal government declared that it wanted to equip the Air Force with F-35 stealth jets. The machines from the 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 considered the most modern fighter aircraft in the world. Due to a special shape and outer coating, the machine is difficult for enemy radar to detect. It is also being bought for Germany’s so-called nuclear sharing, a NATO deterrent concept that gives allies access to US nuclear bombs. In Büchel in the Eifel, 20 thermonuclear B61 gravitational bombs of the US armed forces are to be stored, which have so far been able to be latched under German tornadoes.