Chancellor Olaf Scholz underscored Germany’s commitment to its national defence as well as that of its alliance partners in the wake of Russia’s military aggression on the continent.

The region has to face a new reality that began in 2022, he said as he officially opened the ILA Berlin air show on 5 June. This year’s edition of the show, which takes place every two years, features 600 exhibitors from 30 countries, across the defence and civil aviation sectors, as well as in space flight technology. 

“German politics not only neglected space for a long time, but also the defence industry,” Scholz says. “That is over.

“The Russian attack on Ukraine that violated international law forced Germany into a new security policy reality. Germany is clearly and unmistakably committed to national and alliance defence, and the 2% [of Gross Domestic Product spending] target.”


Source: Pilar Wolfsteller/FlightGlobal

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz officially opens ILA Berlin 2024 on 5 June

Moscow’s aggression has driven Germany to make rapid strides towards substantially bolstering its armed forces’ capabilities, and spending more on military hardware and infrastructure. This means that multiple major acquisitions are currently under way, which will deliver a combined total of almost 240 advanced combat aircraft, surveillance assets and rotorcraft.

NATO figures show that Germany’s defence spending equated to just 1.35% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, up from 1.19% five years earlier. That still fell short of the alliance’s 2% spending target for member nations. Berlin’s level of investment was expected to climb to 1.66% last year, and has now come into line with the NATO objective, which its members had agreed as a goal in 2006.

“Today we recognise clearer than ever before the importance of a strong German and European defence industry,” Scholz adds. 

The ILA show is taking place at the Berlin-Brandenburg International airport, and has a special focus on sustainability as well as Germany’s vibrant but often underfunded start-up scene.

“The show is bigger and more international than ever before,” adds Michael Schoellhorn, president of the BDLI German aviation industry association and Airbus Defence & Space chief executive. “This is a sign of the recovery of our industry after the Covid time.

“We are meeting at a time when the wind is more raw, and the security of Europe is militarily threatened,” he adds. Innovation across the aviation and aerospace industries will help the country thrive in this new geopolitical environment. But he also appealed to the government to maintain its support for the sector.

“Our technological leadership is being disputed, and our industry is also under pressure. In order to survive we need the right political framework” and that the financial support remains at current levels, he says.


But ILA is not only a showcase for defence technologies, civil aviation is also showing off its innovations and its mettle. During a pre-opening tour of the show, Scholz visited the booths of established aerospace giants Rolls-Royce and MTU Engines, but also up-and-coming companies like air taxi developer Lilium. 


Source: Pilar Wolfsteller/FlightGlobal

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the Lilium booth at ILA Berlin 2024 on 5 June

Lilium’s chief executive Klaus Roewe recently made headlines when he complained of the lack of political support for future-oriented start-ups in Germany, which could force them to move abroad to find better conditions. Scholz attempted to assuage these fears.

“After the difficult pandemic years the upwind under the wings of the civil aviation industry is gratifying and impressive,” Scholz says. “Important pioneering work is being done here in Germany”, he adds, mentioning electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems as well as other decarbonisation technology in particular.