Germany Sends Luftwaffe East in Pivot Toward the Indo-Pacific

August 30, 2022 Topic: Germany Region: Indo-Pacific Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Russia-Ukraine WarChinaJosep BorrellBundeswehrLuftwaffe

Germany Sends Luftwaffe East in Pivot Toward the Indo-Pacific

It is now the Luftwaffe’s turn to be deployed to the Indo-Pacific as part of the Rapid Pacific 2022 project


Germany, long seen as the economically powerful but militarily weak man of Europe, is stepping up its presence in the Indo-Pacific region through the Luftwaffe, or the German Air Force.

press release by the Federal Ministry of Defense explained the details of this latest deployment.


The press release explained that the Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific Region, which the Federal Government adopted in September of last year, “include an enhanced Bundeswehr commitment to the region: Germany intends to expand and intensify security and defence cooperation with our close partners.”

This deployment comes on the metaphorical heels of the German Navy’s deployment of the Bayern, a frigate, to the Indo-Pacific region from August 2021 to February 2022.

During the ship’s voyage, it sailed in the “maritime area between the Horn of Africa, Australia and Japan on a mission that encompassed diplomatic and security policy-related objectives.” It also “took part in exercises and helped to monitor the United Nations Security Council sanctions against North Korea.”

But now, “following the navy deployment, it is now the Luftwaffe’s turn to be deployed to the region as part of the Rapid Pacific 2022 project.” It details the kinds of aircraft that the Luftwaffe is sending: six Eurofighters, four A-400M, and three A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft.

These airplanes “will be deployed to the region via Singapore and take part in two multinational exercises (Pitch Black 22 and Kakadu 22).” Lastly, after the exercises conclude, there will be “short visits to East Asian partners Japan and South Korea and, once more, Singapore.” The Bundeswehr anticipates a steady Bundeswehr presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Though a deep pacifist streak runs through German society and politics, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has injected a fresh measure of importance into the Bundeswehr, neglected for many years by increasingly small defense budgets.

But Berlin’s urgency to rearm, though prompted by the Russian invasion, is not limited in scope—at least in the long-term—to just Europe and the looming threat from Russia. Like the United States, Germany is cognizant of the challenge posed by China since it is an economic powerhouse fueled by exporting goods abroad.

In addition to the economic threat posed by China’s manufacturing prowess, Berlin is also slowly gearing up for defense. Six months ago, German chancellor Olaf Schulz announced that the Bundeswehr would receive a one-time boost of €100 billion on top of an increasingly large defense budget, which will soon meet the NATO target of 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) spending on defense.

The Bundeswehr press release quoted Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “Europe and the Indo-Pacific are highly interconnected,” he said. “What happens in the Indo-Pacific has important implications for Europe, and vice versa. The region produces 60 percent of global GDP and is the second largest destination of EU exports.”

Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.

Image: Reuters.