Berlin has not determined a course of procurement, but the letter indicates the US may have a potential buyer in Germany.
The intelligence brief requested will allow Berlin to conduct “an in-depth evaluation of market available solutions,” the German Ministry of Defense said, “including the F-35.”
Germany is a member of the team that produces the Eurofighter Typhoon and is actively seeking new clients. Typhoons have already joined the German Luftwaffe, but the German MoD is reportedly looking to upgrade its air force fleet sometime within the next decade.
The UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Israel are currently the only US military partners who have F-35s in their fleet. Singapore has reportedly expressed interest in the fifth-generation Lockheed jet as well.
The jet has faced countless mechanical and operational problems. After two years, pilots lighter than 135 pounds were just cleared to start training with the jets on Tuesday. The seat ejector posed an “elevated level of risk” of lethally snapping pilots’ necks before it was fixed this week.
At least the Germans had the manners to ask for the intelligence. In January 2015, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked documents showing that Chinese hackers stole 50 terabytes worth of data on the F-35’s blue prints. The Pentagon agreed to work with its German security partners to “support” the Luftwaffe’s request, the F-35 program office said.