Airbus hopes its $6.5 billion German Eurofighter sale will shine for Switzerland, Finland

Sebastian Sprenger

COLOGNE, Germany — Airbus is trying to make hay out of its $6.5 billion sale of 38 Eurofighter aircraft to Germany for other procurement competitions in Switzerland and Finland.

The European defense giant inked a deal with the German Luftwaffe, or Air Force, this week after the country’s parliament, the Bundestag, approved the budget earlier this month. The Luftwaffe stands to get 30 single-seater and eight twin-seater planes, Airbus said in a statement.

Four of those aircraft will serve as test beds for future technology, as the company positions the Eurofighter as the bridge to the next-generation Future Combat Air System, a German-French-Spanish collaboration, according to the service.

“The renewed order from Germany secures production until 2030 and comes at a strategically important time for the program,” the company statement read. “In addition to an expected Eurofighter order from Spain to replace its legacy F-18s, procurement decisions in Switzerland and Finland are imminent in 2021.”

Switzerland wants to buy up to 40 aircraft for a maximum of $6.5 billion, and the Eurofighter is one of the aircraft in the running. Similarly, Finland is considering the plane as a replacement for its F-18 fleet.

“The variant offered in Switzerland corresponds to the configuration of the German Quadriga order,” Airbus officials wrote in the statement, referring to the name of a new, fourth tranche of aircraft.

The new batch, to be delivered by 2030, will replace the first tranche, bought between 2003 and 2008, which can only do air-to-air combat and boasts an obsolete radar, according to the German Defence Ministry.

Voters in Switzerland approved a new air defense package in September, including a ground-based weapon system and a fleet of combat aircraft. A second offer from the four competing companies is expected this month. Besides the Eurofighter, Dassault’s Rafale, Boeing’s F-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 also are under consideration.

The Finnish government over the summer upped the budget for its “HX” fighter program to $5.8 billion, eyeing a procurement decision in 2021.

“The new Tranche 4 Eurofighter is currently the most modern European-built combat aircraft with a service life well beyond 2060,” Airbus Defence and Space CEO Dirk Hoke said in a statement following the contract signature with the German government. “Its technical capabilities will allow full integration into the European Future Combat Air System, FCAS.”