German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks with German military officials on the first day of the ILA Berlin Air Show. (ILA Berlin handout)

BERLIN AIR SHOW — Berlin plans to order an additional 20 Eurofighter Typhoon jets, in what German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said here today is part of an effort to fortify the European defense industry.

“We want a strong aerospace industry in Germany and Europe,” Scholz tweeted, according to an online translation. “This includes planning security in the defense industry. That’s why we ensure reliable orders — including the purchase of 20 more Eurofighters in this legislative period.”

In his speech opening the ILA Berlin air show earlier in the day, Scholz said the 20 fighters are “in addition to the 38 aircraft currently in the pipeline,” according to Reuters.

Germany currently operates 138 Eurofighters, which the military says “form the backbone of the German combat aircraft fleet.” The planes “are a core element in ensuring the future contribution of the Air Force to the required armed forces capability profile and to the associated Alliance commitments,” the military’s website says. The plane is made by a consortium of Europe’s Airbus, the United Kingdom’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Leonardo under a four-nation partner program made up of Germany, the UK, Italy and Spain.

Michael Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus, praised Scholz’s comments and said the company “will ensure continuity in the production of the Typhoon until we have the new FCAS [Future Combat Air System], and that is something very encouraging for the industry.”

He said that 20 more Typhoons would equal out to an additional two years of production for the air frame, keeping the line open through 2032. And more orders could always come, whether from other European nations or from abroad.

“Now we’re also working on other fronts,” Schoellhorn told a group of reporters. “Spain is considering more Eurofighters; Italy’s considering more Eurofighters.”

He also said Airbus, along with BAE Systems, had launched an “export” campaign hoping to get the jets to Saudi Arabia. The Gulf kingdom had been barred by the German government from buying the jet, but Berlin lifted the block in January.

Scholz’s appearance at the Berlin Air Show, which also included a stop by Airbus’s concept design for a new Wingman drone, comes amid Europe’s struggles to ramp up industrial production of war materiel to either donate to Ukraine or refill their own stocks in the wake of donations.

The German government has been relatively cautious when it comes to support for Ukraine, but over the weekend, Scholz used a visit by Baltic officials to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin off further aggression.

“And because the threat from Russia will continue, we and other allies decided last year to deploy additional units to the Baltic states and to station an entire brigade there permanently in future,” Scholz said, Reuters reported. “But this turnaround in security policy is necessary to show Russia: We are prepared to defend every square inch of NATO territory against attacks.”