Germany Buys More Fighter Jets Amid Military Rearmament

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday that Germany will purchase an additional 20 Eurofighter aircraft in an effort to rebuild the nation’s military strength amid the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, days after the country increased its order for 155mm artillery shells from Rheinmetall, an arms and ammunition producer in Germany.

Rearmament Amid a War

The chancellor made the announcement on the first day of the Berlin Air Show, an event that brings together a number of aerospace specialists, including members of the military, industry representatives, policymakers, and those in academia, according to the event’s website. So far, the new aircraft are expected to cost nearly 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion USD) and will be produced by Airbus, one of the world’s largest aircraft producers, which is headquartered in the Netherlands.

Olaf Scholz speaking with the CEO of Airbus during the Berlin Air Show. (Photo – Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

On Friday, a German official told Reuters that the nation is planning to order eight additional Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets in addition to Germany’s 35 already commissioned F-35s. Officials stated they are currently looking into the cost of additional jets, with the previous jets costing around 10 billion euros (10.89 billion USD). The F-35s would replace Germany’s Tornedos, an aircraft that has been in service since the 1980s, with the country hoping to phase them out between 2025 and 2030. The 35 ordered jets are set to be completed by 2026 and will remain in the United States for pilot training before being transferred to Germany.

Germany’s recent military buildup and assertive actions follow Scholz’s “Zeitenwende speech,” or “turning point” in 2022. In the speech, the chancellor stated that Germany would increase its military spending from 1.5% to NATO’s target of 2% of the nation’s GDP in response to perceived Russian aggression in Ukraine. Not only does Zeitenwende seek to increase military spending, but the policy also aims to secure Germany’s independence from Russian gas, instead moving towards renewable energy.

Scholz has successfully made progress on the Zeitenwende, with Germany’s 2024 budget set to meet the 2% goal imposed by NATO for the first time since the late 1990s amid the Cold War. This policy coincides with numerous other NATO member’s increases, with every member of NATO excluding the United States, Croatia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom increasing their budgets since 2014. Despite these increases, however, many NATO members still fail to meet the 2% threshold, with a significant portion of countries that have hit the quota being Eastern European nations close to Russia.

The increase in production of 155mm artillery shells and the desire for more aircraft are not the only moves from Germany in the security sector. In early April, the government announced that they planned to send five thousand soldiers to Lithuania to construct a permanent military base for coalition forces, leading to condemnation from Russian officials. This new base has faced criticism, as those opposed to the new base state that the construction would shake an already unstable national budget. Critics continued, stating that the construction of a new base would create a dent in Germany’s stores of military equipment, as equipment would have to shift from soldiers in Germany to those in Lithuania.

German Soldiers participate in the 90th Infantry Division Monument Memorial Ceremony in Picauville, France. (Photo – Specialist 1st Class Sean Spratt/ US Navy)

Germany’s newly expressed desire to hit NATO’s military spending goal alongside their actions to fulfill such a dream signals a significant change in the nation’s foreign policy amid the Russo-Ukrainian war. Despite this desire, however, Germany has historically faced a severe funding crisis in regards to its military spending, with Bastian Giegerich, the head of the London-based International Institute for Security Studies, theorizing that it could take Germany a decade to be prepared for a conflict. Furthermore, Germany faces societal aversion to rearmament, showcased in the rise of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany political party, which has called for the government to cease sending aid to Ukraine, claiming that aid would prolong the conflict and “could make us [Germany] party to a nuclear war,” DW reports.

Operations Against Germany

The buildup follows Russia’s alleged continued espionage attacks against Germany and their comrades in NATO in what some believe to be an effort to influence national politics or to target supply lines. In one case of Russian espionage, a captain within the German military was found guilty of providing pictures of military documents and images of munitions training systems and aircraft to officials in the Russian consulate located in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia. The captain claimed he provided military intelligence due to his fears that Germany sending supplies to Ukraine would bring the country into the conflict, while the captain’s defense claimed he had been radicalized by Russian propaganda through social media apps such as Instagram and Tiktok.

On May 3rd, the German government, alongside the Czech Republic, the US Department of State, and NATO, accused Russia of initiating cyberattacks against Germany’s defense and aerospace firms alongside the ruling Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). These attacks reportedly targeted “critical infrastructure operators” and a number of entities in several other NATO-aligned nations, including Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden.

German police at the scene of a shooting in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, October 9, 2019. (Photo – Marvin Gaul/Reuters)

Russia targeted German officials again in late January, when discussions relating to Germany’s role in Ukraine were leaked by Russia following a technical blunder by a member of staff. The leaked discussion, likely intercepted by chance through widespread surveillance, focused on the delivery of weapons for Ukraine and a potential strike by the Ukrainian military on a bridge in Crimea. The participant dialed into a Webex meeting (a web conferencing program used by the German government) from Singapore, where it was likely intercepted by Russian intelligence through regular intelligence gathering efforts.

Analysts have theorized that Russia’s cyber attacks against NATO members are intended to discover the routes of military equipment transports in Ukraine in order to target key supply lines, severely weakening Ukraine. Other attacks have left some to speculate Russia intends to interfere with European politics, attacking anti-Russian political parties while offering monetary support for those who wish for their nations’ to cease sending arms and munitions to Ukraine or to cooperate with Russia.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.


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