German breakdown pilots for the Ukraine?

In Germany, the Eurofighter has repeatedly attracted attention due to breakdowns. Would it still be possible to deliver the fighter jet to Ukraine?

In the debate about the delivery of Western fighter jets to Ukraine, Germany initially seemed to be left out, since the Bundeswehr does not have the F-16 jets requested by Kiev. But now the Ukrainian Defense Minister is bringing the German Eurofighters into play – these too could be part of the fighter jet coalition that is currently being formed on the initiative of Great Britain and the Netherlands, according to Oleksiy Resnikov. But does Germany have enough operational Eurofighters to hand over to Ukraine?

The Air Force is keeping a low profile on the exact number of operational machines. In the most recent report on the Bundeswehr’s operational readiness from the beginning of 2022, there is talk of “sometimes over 80 percent” of operational Eurofighters on a weekly average. That would correspond to around 110 operational Eurofighters – the fleet consists of a total of 138 machines. They form the backbone of German air defense. In addition, Germany has 85 older Tornado fighter jets, which are to be replaced by more modern F-35 aircraft in the coming years.

19 Eurofighters are currently in service

According to the Bundeswehr, at least 19 Eurofighters are definitely ready for action: four each are available to the alarm squads for monitoring German airspace in Neuburg in Bavaria and in Laage in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Five other German Eurofighters are currently protecting the airspace over the Baltic countries, together with British jets of the same type. In addition, the Bundeswehr increased the number of Eurofighters stationed in Romania from three to six after the Russian attack on Ukraine.

However, it is unclear how many of the other machines are being maintained or repaired. The Eurofighter is also not immune to breakdowns and breakdowns. Only in July did the Bundeswehr stop all practice and training flights with the machine because there was a possible problem with the ejection seats: the release cartridges had possibly not been filled correctly by the manufacturer and threatened to fail in an emergency.

reputation as a breakdown pilot

In June 2019, a Eurofighter pilot died during an exercise in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. He had collided with another Eurofighter. Both pilots were initially able to save themselves with the ejection seat, but only one survived the accident. But the Eurofighter had already lost its reputation as a breakdown pilot. The “Spiegel” reported in May 2018 that of the 128 Eurofighters of the Bundeswehr at the time, only four were operational. At that time, the reason was leaking coolant on a container with sensors. The repair was difficult because one of the spare parts suppliers had meanwhile been sold.

Ejection seat of a Eurofighter: The release system caused problems last year.

The Eurofighter built by Airbus was developed in the 1980s. Germany received the first machines with a delay in 2003. Great Britain, Spain and Italy also use the combat aircraft. The first 38 Eurofighters that Germany received between 2003 and 2008 are currently being replaced by new machines. Whether Germany actually participates in the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine is likely to be primarily a political decision. So far, Berlin – like London – has ruled out this step.

“Most of it should be F-16s”

The Ukrainian Defense Minister Resnikov named the international coalition for the supply of main battle tanks with the core model of the German Leopard 2 as well as American Abrams and British Challengers as a model. You could also form a fighter jet coalition with the core model F-16, Resnikov explained. However, he would welcome it if Germany were to take part in the training of Ukrainian pilots on Eurofighters.

Overall, Ukraine needs around 120 fighter jets, said Resnikov. “Most of them should consist of F-16s,” of which there are more than 5,000 machines worldwide, the Ukrainian defense minister said. But Eurofighter and Gripen jets, which are manufactured by the Swedish company Saab, would also help. The United States recently gave its European allies the green light to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets.


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