The US military is trying to fill a gaping hole in its supply chain, and is sending a fleet of military transport vehicles to Europe to make it easier for the US to deliver cargo to the German military’s top airbase in Erfurt.
The move is designed to ease logistics in Germany, where the military and its contractors are fighting a growing war against Islamic State militants.
German military spokesman Peter Dietz said the move was part of a broader effort to improve the security of supply routes for NATO allies.
Dietz told a news conference on Thursday that Germany was the only major NATO country that has not received an aircraft carrier from the alliance, adding that the carrier could help the alliance “build bridges of trust.”
The US has spent more than $5 billion to buy the planes and trucks, which were part of an upgrade of a transport fleet previously built in the U.S. and other countries.
After a decade of being used mainly by the military to deliver goods and troops to and from Europe, the planes have become a key element of the alliance’s strategy in the war against the Islamic State group, which has overrun large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Germany and other NATO countries want to ensure that their allies have enough planes, trucks and other logistical support to make the trip from the United States to the European air base at Erfurt, the base where the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be based, where its crews will spend up to 12 months in training and maintenance.
The United States is now relying on other countries for the bulk of its supplies, but the new arrangement with Germany, known as a “shared delivery agreement,” will give it greater leverage to negotiate better prices for the planes.
“This is a huge win for our allies in the fight against IS,” said Richard Aboulafia, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University who has written extensively about the Pentagon’s effort to buy planes from the U,S.
He said the agreement will likely make it more difficult for the United Kingdom to secure a better price for the jets from the military.
“Germany and the UK are going to have to work together to work out an agreement that will be more favorable to both,” Aboulafa said.
Although the agreement is not final, it is expected to address a key issue: The United States, which already pays the German Air Force for its use of the planes, would not pay a premium to the military in exchange for their service.
Last month, the Pentagon agreed to a $3.8 billion contract for the purchase of 676 F-15s from Lockheed Martin Corp. for use by U.C.L.A.’s Marine Corps Air Station, the first time a U.N. Security Council resolution has called for a similar arrangement.