“It’s a real disaster for the Navy, it’s the first time in history that there will not be any submarine operating for months,” warns the president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament, Hans-Peter Bartels, in an interview published on Sunday in the Berlin weekly Bild am Sonntag.
The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.
The German Navy lost its last submarine in October, as the rudder of its last Type 212A was severely damaged in a collision with a rock off the Norwegian coast while the rest of the fleet was out of service.
It is also understood that none of the new frigates, the Type 125s, are able to enter into operational service due to defects and a similar situation is faced by auxiliary ships, Berlin and Bonn, which were sent to dry dock for a year and a half of repairs.
In 2015, it was revealed that only 29 of Germany’s 66 Tornado jets are airworthy. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen then stressed that only six of the operational Tornado jets would be needed for the proposed German mission in Syria. German chief of staff General Volker Wieker said:
“The state of our flying systems remains unsatisfactory”
A defence ministry report obtained by German media blamed the problem on the “lack of availability of various spare parts”.
The readiness of Germany’s armed forces has long been the subject of criticism. Technical problems grounded German military aircraft delivering weapons to Kurds fighting IS in northern Iraq and medical aid to West Africa during the Ebola outbreak. Defence cuts announced in March 2003 resulted in the decision to retire 90 Tornados from Luftwaffe service. This led to a reduction in its Tornado strength to four wings by September 2005.
In January 2004, the then German Defence Minister Peter Struck announced further major changes to the German armed forces. A major part of this announcement is the plan to cut the German fighter fleet from 426 in early 2004 to 265 by 2015. The German Tornado force was reduced to 85, with the type expected to remain in service with the Luftwaffe until 2020.