Germany to decide mid-December on purchase of F-35 fighter jet

BERLIN, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The German parliament will decide in mid-December about the 10 billion euro ($10.50 billion) purchase of the F-35 fighter jet produced by U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday.

"We will discuss a huge project in the next session of the (parliament's) budget committee on Dec. 14, the F-35 ... with a volume of 10 billion euros in total," Lambrecht told reporters on a visit to the town of Simmern in western Germany.

The purchase of new radios is also on the agenda for the session, she added, without giving details.

Germany aims to buy 35 F-35 stealth fighter jets, including missiles and other weapons and equipment, with the first eight aircraft to be delivered in 2026.

It is the first major project that Germany will tap the 100 billion euro special fund for.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced the fund in a major policy shift days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, aiming to bring the Bundeswehr's weapons and equipment back up to standard after decades of attrition following the end of the Cold War.

The F-35 is meant to replace the ageing Tornado, the only German jet capable of carrying U.S. nuclear bombs, which are stored in Germany to be used in case of a conflict.

The German air force has been flying the Tornado since the 1980s, and Berlin is planning to phase it out between 2025 and 2030.

Berlin's decision for the F-35, which was announced in March but needs final approval by parliament, upset France.

Paris fears the deal could undercut the development of a joint Franco-German fighter jet that is supposed to be ready in the 2040s.

($1 = 0.9527 euros)

Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Holger Hansen Editing by Miranda Murray amd Frank Jack Daniel

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