German Chancellor Announces Shift in Policy, Opening Door for Eurofighter Sale to Saudi Arabia

Germany is now expected to reassess its stance on the supply of Typhoons to Turkey
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  • 09:56 AM, January 10, 2024
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German Chancellor Announces Shift in Policy, Opening Door for Eurofighter Sale to Saudi Arabia
German Eurofighter Typhoon

In a significant policy reversal, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed on Monday a softening of Germany's stance on the proposed sale of 48 Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Saudi Arabia.

This was reported by German press agency dpa, citing a statement to that effect from government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

This change comes in the wake of Saudi Arabia's assistance in intercepting Houthi-fired missiles aimed at Israel, a move that has apparently influenced the German government's decision.

The decision was endorsed by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock during her recent visit to Israel, where she expressed that Germany would no longer object to the United Kingdom's sale of Eurofighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia. As a co-producer of the Eurofighter Typhoon along with the UK, Spain, and Italy, Germany had the authority to veto sales to countries outside the core user group.

The original stance of the German governing coalition, comprising the Social Democratic, Green, and Free Democratic parties, was to prohibit weapons sales to parties involved in Yemen's civil war. This included Saudi Arabia, which supports the Yemeni government against Houthi rebels. The decision was also grounded in concerns over human rights violations committed by Riyadh.

The shift in policy has sparked backlash, particularly within Baerbock's Green Party, known for its strong stance on human rights. However, the change is attributed to Saudi Arabia's perceived constructive role in preventing an escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

British pressure, coupled with a new pragmatic approach following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, seems to have influenced the current government's stance on the matter.

This change is expected to address concerns about Germany's credibility as an arms program partner and revive the industrial complex behind the Eurofighter.

The decision also has implications for the Eurofighter consortium, as Germany's previous stance risked damaging its defense aerospace sector and hindering export opportunities. The move is seen as a strategic decision to maintain arms cooperation and address concerns within the consortium.

The shift in policy could impact the Eurofighter Typhoon production, with potential orders from Saudi Arabia and Turkey playing a crucial role in filling a production gap. Airbus has urged a timely decision to prevent job losses and a decline in the aviation industry.

Riyadh had entered negotiations with France for Rafale fighter jets in response to the Eurofighter embargo imposed by Germany.

Simultaneously, Germany remains steadfast in its opposition to the proposed sale of 40 Eurofighter Typhoons to Turkey from England. This stance adds another layer of complexity to the evolving dynamics of arms sales and geopolitical relations.

Looking ahead, Eurofighter Typhoon production in Germany is slated to conclude in 2030 with the delivery of the last Tranche 4 aircraft. A ten-year gap in orders for the German military aviation industry is anticipated until the planned entry-level operational capability declaration of the next-generation SCAF/FCAS fighter in 2040.

The resolution to this production gap hinges significantly on the potential orders of 88 aircraft by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. These orders are viewed as crucial in sustaining the Eurofighter production line and preventing potential job losses in the aviation industry. In this context, Germany is expected to reassess its stance on the supply of Typhoons to Turkey, considering the broader implications for its defense industry and international partnerships.

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