Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF Lightning II
Copyright: Almos Castellazzi

Germany and UAE interested on F-35

As reported by Defence News Germany and the United Arab Emirates have expressed an interest on the 5th generation stealth fighter F-35.

At an industry conference in Berlin and in an interview with Reuters, German Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Karl Muellner has expressed the need of a stealthy fifth-generation fighter to replace the actual fleet of Tornados fighter attack aircraft, a description closely to the advanced fighter jet Lockheed Martin’s F-35.

After Italy, UK,  Norway and Holland, Germany would be the next US allied in Europe to buy the F-35 that could quickly meet Germany’s requirements towards the next decades.

The Federal Ministry of Defence stressed the concept that Muellner was speaking strictly from an operational point of view. All the others factors as financial, industrial and political are on a considerations phase, because the purchase of an off-the-shelf aircraft from the US  would see only a little benefit for Germany’s industry.

In the next years the ministry expects responses to formal requests for information about F-18, F-15, F-35 and an upgraded Eurofighter all in play to replace the Tornados.

The U.S. Defense Department has begun, also, talks with the United Arab Emirates about a potential sale of F-35, so UAE  could become the first middle eastern country after Israel.

If a deal moves through, the UAE would become the first Gulf nation to acquire the F-35, which is manufactured by Lockheed Martin. However, it could potentially face several barriers, among which those from Israel over a impact on Israel’s security. But today U.A.E. armed forces routinely take part in U.S. and other multinational operations and exercises cultivating increasingly military relations with Israel and its Defense Force (IDF) personnel.

Israelis F-35Is can operate independently from the world-wide infrastructure that U.S. military and Lockheed Martin have done to support also the foreign F-35 operators. Israel’s aircraft will not be dependent on software updates of the ALIS system that acts as a loading point for a wide array of data, including maintenance and mission informations. Israel will have a particular relationship with it’s F-35I. Israeli Air Force would be getting a one-of-a-kind F-35 test bed to develop its own future modifications and upgrades independent from the global international program’s management, making Israel the only nation to have the rights to conduct its own develop and maintenance activities on engine and airframe.

These peculiarities might convince Israel and its political allies to let the UAE the possibility to buy the fifth generation Lockheed Martin jet. In Gulf scenario the U.A.E. F-35 could be a valuable tool to contain Iran influence in the Persian Gulf and in Middle East area and to oversee the iranian military capabilities.

On the other hand Lockheed Martin could decide to create an export version of F-35 and its ALIS and on board systems with reduced operational capabilities, with the possibility to open up to other possible gulf customers facing also the sales of other competitors such as Russia aviation industries.