Germany want nuclear role for Eurofighter Typhoons

Germany is looking to certify its Eurofighter Typhoon combats jets for carrying nuclear weapons.

German Defense Ministry has sent a formal letter to U.S. Defense Department in April, asking the feasibility, cost involved and time required for the certification, according to a Reuters report.

Currently German Tornado bombers are certified to deliver U.S. B61 nuclear warheads hosted by the country, under NATO's nuclear sharing policy.

Germany operates 89 Tornado fighters which are slated for phased out starting in 2025. A replacement aircraft is being sought with bids submitted in April 2018 by Airbus offering the Eurofighter and U.S. govt representing Lockheed Martin and Boeing offering F-35 and F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters respectively.

Eurofighter Typhoon seems to be the obvious choice for Germany which will offer the reduced maintenance and operating cost as a fleet of 140 aircraft are operational with Luftwaffe, and will also sustain jobs and technology in Germany and Europe.

But downside is that the Eurofighter lacks stealth capabilities and is not nuclear weapon certified. Airbus says the certification can be achieved by 2025, but U.S. military experts say the process could take until 2030 or longer, which might force Germany to extend the life of some Tornados.

This gives the Lockheed Martin F-35 an advantage with its radar evading stealth capability that ensure survivability during a nuclear mission and is already slated to carry nuclear weapons beginning in the early 2020s.

There are an estimated 480 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, deployed at bases in Belgium (20), Germany (150), Italy (90), the Netherlands (20), Turkey (90) and the United Kingdom (110).

United States plans to deploy 180 of the improved B61-12 LEP precision-guided thermonuclear bombs to five European countries between 2020-24. The B61-12 has a “dial-a-yield” feature and is able to strike within 30 metres of its target.