“We are working of the necessary certification of refueling systems and are in close contact with France,” German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday. “I think we will be ready in February.”
He said refueling French aircraft on combat missions would require the approval of the German parliament.
“Airborne refueling would put us so close to the Constitutional Court’s so-called engagement threshold that we should have a mandate,” he said.
Currently, Germany has limited its participation in Mali to providing transport planes and equipment. This has exposed Berlin to criticism that it was not pulling its weight, as France fought Islamist militants in the North African country.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday defended Berlin’s contribution, saying there was no reason for embarrassment.
“Instead Germany can really say we are behaving in an exemplary fashion internationally,” he told parliament. “When everything is added up, including what we’re doing in Europe, we hit upwards of $100 to $120 million.”