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Germany signs contract to buy 'world's most advanced' fighter jets

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Germany signs contract to buy 'world's most advanced' fighter jets
Soldiers from the German military inspect an F-35 fighter jet at an exhibition at Berlin Schönefeld. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Germany on Wednesday signed a deal to buy dozens of US-made F-35 fighter jets, US officials said, part of the country's military overhaul following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

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"The German F-35 programme will ensure the continuation of Germany's alliance commitments and guarantee NATO's credible deterrence in the future," said the US embassy in Berlin in a statement.

The 35 jets, the world's most advanced warplanes, should be delivered between 2026 and 2029, it said.

Berlin had announced in March the planned purchase of the aircraft made by Lockheed Martin to replace its ageing Tornado fleet.

But the defence ministry in Berlin earlier this month raised concerns about the plan, warning of "delays and additional costs" in the nearly €10 billion acquisition, in a letter to parliament's budget committee.

READ ALSO: Germany to buy F-35 fighter jets in military spending spree

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Germany's lower house of parliament still decided to press ahead and approve the acquisition on Wednesday.

"The German-US defence partnership has never been stronger and is a central pillar of NATO's transatlantic partnership," said the embassy statement.

The cost of the jets is to come from a planned €100 billion investment in the armed forces, unveiled following the outbreak of the Ukraine war in a bid to overhaul Germany's underfunded military.

NATO hikes budget for 2023

Against the backdrop of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the NATO defence alliance has also revised its planned spending for the coming year, with countries agreeing on a significantly higher budget.

According to the Alliance, the civilian budget will increase by around 28 percent to €370.8 million in 2023, while the military budget will increase by around 26 percent to €1.96 billion.

Welcoming the decision, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the higher budget was an expression of the Alliance's "greater ambition".

READ ALSO: How Russia's war in Ukraine has sparked historic change in Germany

"Only together can we offer security to the residents of NATO countries in a more dangerous world," he added.

Currently, NATO's civilian and defence budgets together amount to around €1.8 billion, which pales in comparison to the military budgets of individual member states.

According to alliance documents, the US alone spent $822 billion (€769 billion) on its defence budget last year, while Germany poured  €55.6 billion into its military - and is set to spend a further €100 billion.

These two countries will be the largest contributors to the budget in the coming year, with each accounting for 16.3 percent of the total sum.

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