April 25, 2018 / 9:47 AM / 25 days ago

Eurofighter urges U.S. not use nuclear certification to "leverage" German jets bid

BERLIN, April 25 (Reuters) - The head of Eurofighter on Wednesday said he did not expect the United States to slow certification of the European fighter’s ability to carry nuclear weapons as a way to influence a competition to replace Germany’s aging 90 Tornado jets.

The Eurofighter is a joint project between British defence group BAE, European airplane maker Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo.

Airbus and Eurofighter on Tuesday submitted six binders of information to the German defence ministry, which has said it will prioritize a European fighter, but has also asked for information about the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet and Boeing Co’s F-15E and F/A-18E/F jets.

F-35 backers say that aircraft is already slated to have the nuclear capability in the early 2020s, while the Eurofighter would still need certification. Airbus says it is confident Eurofighter could get certification by 2025, when Germany wants to start phasing out its Tornado fleet.

Volker Paltzo, chief executive of Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, told reporters at the ILA Berlin Air Show that U.S. certification was required, but said he was confident Eurofighter could take over the roles of the Tornado.

“This is a subject where we would not expect the U.S. to leverage over Eurofighter in this competition,” he said.

Paltzo said the European fighter had already received over 600 orders, and was competing for 300 more across Europe. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal)

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