Recent criticism of Germany’s reliability as an ally tends to neglect many of the concrete contributions it makes to NATO. One of the least-mentioned contributions is that Germany’s air force is part of a regional nuclear force that deters Russian use of weapons of mass destruction against European NATO nations. It’s a controversial mission, but one to which Berlin has repeatedly confirmed its commitment. In order to continue doing the nuclear mission, though, it needs to replace its aging Tornado fighter bombers. In 2020 it decided to buy 30 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets for the nuclear strike role, plus an additional 15 EA-18G Growlers based on the same airframe for electronic warfare missions. Berlin had other options, but they either took too long to implement before Tornadoes would have to retire, or they foreclosed options to participate on a next-generation European fighter. In the end, Super Hornet looked like the best bet to maintain continuity in Germany’s nuclear role through mid-century. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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