BERLIN Nov 24 Germany's economic ministry has
questioned a plan by the country's defence ministry to buy U.S.
transport planes, proposing instead the purchase of a Brazilian
aircraft that could trigger orders for German firms.
A state secretary in Germany's economic ministry, Brigitte
Zypries, told lawmakers in a letter that she had made the
suggestion to her counterpart at the defence ministry after a
visit to an Embraer facility in Brazil.
Zypries said Embraer presented its own KC-390 transport
aircraft as a "very convincing" alternative to the purchase of
Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J transport planes proposed by
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, according to a copy of
the letter viewed by Reuters.
Von der Leyen last month said Germany was looking at buying
4-6 of the Lockheed planes and operating them jointly with
France, as a complement to a fleet of A400M transporters by
It was not immediately clear whether the suggestion would
prompt a review by the defence ministry, which has played up the
benefits of sharing a fleet of transport planes with France as
part of a broader push to increase European defence cooperation.
A spokesman for the defence ministry confirmed it had
received the letter, but declined comment on its substance.
No comment was immediately available from Lockheed.
In the letter, first reported by Spiegel Online, Zypries
said German firms would benefit more from a Brazilian purchase,
citing weapons maker Rheinmetall AG as an example.
Germany's military initially planned to buy only Airbus
A400M transporters to replace its aging fleet of C-160 Transall
planes, which is due to be retired in 2021, but recently moved
to buy some smaller planes for different tasks.
It remains unclear when Germany could sign a contract for
the additional military transports.
Embraer is the world's third largest maker of commercial
aircraft. Lockheed is the world's largest weapons maker.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Additional reporting by Andrea
Shalal; Editing by Toby Chopra)