“The purchase of combat aircraft and helicopters from the United States threatens the downfall of the military aviation industry in Germany,” IG Metall official Jürgen Kerner said on Tuesday during an action day at Airbus in Taufkirchen near Munich.
He said it would also weaken civilian aircraft manufacturing, “with significantly negative consequences for technology development and the more than 100,000 highly qualified jobs today.”
The labour union is calling for the further development of the Eurofighter jet and the combat helicopter Tiger, which would bring jobs to Germany.
The German federal government had established a special fund of €100 billion ($106 billion) for the modernization of the German army, the Bundeswehr, with €40 billion allocated for the air force.
However, taxpayers’ money is going to the United States: The government has ordered 35 F-35 combat aircraft from Lockheed Martin, with additional procurements on the horizon. “Whether the Eurofighter will be further developed remains uncertain,” said Kerner.
The European Tiger helicopter faces the risk of being phased out in Germany. The new transport helicopter will be purchased from Boeing, and the purchase of the US Apache combat helicopter has also been considered.
Furthermore, the German government has failed to involve the German aviation industry in the production of components, further development, and maintenance of US aircraft, the union claims. In contrast, other countries regularly tie major procurements to commitments to secure production and jobs within their own borders, said Daniele Frijia, IG Metall’s Munich branch manager.
Without a new Eurofighter contract, the German-French-Spanish Future Combat Air System (FCAS) is also in danger, which is set to significantly strengthen Europe’s air defence from 2040.
“If Germany wants to progress with FCAS, the government must invest in bridge technologies today, such as the further development of the Eurofighter,” Kerner said.