It looks like Germany might join the F-35 family around 2025. According to Janes the Joint Strike Fighter is the preferred choice as a replacement for the Tornado.
The Tornado will retire around 2030, and the transition to its successor will take about five years. It makes a lot of sense to replace the Tornado with a fifth generation fighter, and the F-35 is the only one available at this time schedule.
Earlier Germany had set its hopes on Airbus to be ready with its New Fighter. However, now it seems that this aircraft will not be ready before the 2040-timeframe. It is therefore much more likely as a replacement for Germany’s Eurofighter Typhoons and the French Dassault Rafale.
The New Fighter is the manned fighter jet in a concept that Airbus calls Future Combat Air System (FCAS). In addition to the New Fighter, Airbus envisions a future where different kinds of manned aircraft and UAV’s operate interconnectedly as a family in the FCAS. One must hope that Airbus makes it easy to integrate products from other manufacturers into FCAS, because otherwise Germany might find itself in a complicated mixed family situation. Connectivity is vital for future air operations, and if Germany’s 85 Tornados and 125 Eurofighters are replaced by the same numbers of F-35s and New Fighters respectively they have to be able to exchange data smoothly.