German Tornado aircraft are still unable to fight at night, ministers have told lawmakers.
We understand that issues with personnel numbers and delays in equipment certification are to blame.
According to local media, the problem is two part: Firstly, the current lights used by displays “are not suited for night-vision mode”, meaning pilots would be blinded by them should they use light enhancing goggle.
Secondly, it has been reported that certification officials are unsure they can obtain documentation from the goggles producer that would be required for a fleet-wide approval, according to DefenseNews.
The report, first cited by the German magazine Spiegel, says the Panavia Tornado, which first entered service in the 1970s, has several equipment flaws that make it vulnerable and no longer suitable for duty. The fleet of fighter jets needs costly modernisation if Germany wants to keep them operational until 2035, as it plans.
The belagured German Tornado fleet is no stranger to issues. According to local media earlier in the year, the fuel used by the German Tornado fleet appears to have been mixed with ‘too much bio-diesel’.
According to news site Frankfurter Allgemeine, this was noticed during a routine check last Monday:
“The tolerance values are minimally exceeded,” said Colonel Kristof Conrath of the Tactical Air Force Squadron 51. “It’s not that the aircraft would fall from the sky. For safety reasons, all tanks of the aircraft must be flushed.”
It is understood that this breakdown is particularly annoying for the Luftwaffe, as training of new Tornado pilots is already three months behind. This comes after we reported that The German military is under-equipped to take on its upcoming role as leader of NATO’s Russian-aimed Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.
The Bundeswehr is due to take over leadership of NATO’s multinational Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) at the start of next year, but doesn’t have enough tanks, a leaked Defence Ministry document said. Specifically, the Bundeswehr’s ninth tank brigade in Münster only has nine operational Leopard 2 tanks — even though it promised to have 44 ready for the VJTF — and only three of the promised 14 Marder armored infantry vehicles.
The paper also revealed the reason for this shortfall: a lack of spare parts and the high cost and time needed to maintain the vehicles. It added that it was also lacking night-vision equipment, automatic grenade launchers, winter clothing and body armor.
The German air force is also struggling to cover its NATO duties, the document revealed. The Luftwaffe’s main forces — the Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and its CH-53 transport helicopters — are only available for use an average of four months a year — the rest of the time the aircraft are grounded for repairs and rearmament.