Germany is pitching for a seat at the UN Security Council, the UN’s most powerful arm in charge of the authorisation of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states.

Should German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas be successful in his pitch (read more about that here), Germany would join the Security Council as a non-permanent member but it’s hard to see what kind of clout it could bring.

The vast majority of major weapons systems in the German military are unavailable for training exercises or deployment, according to a new German Defence Ministry report.

The ‘Report on the Operational Readiness of the Bundeswehr’s Primary Weapons Systems 2017,’ has been seen by local media and is set to be presented to Germany’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

The Defence Ministry’s report comes after the Bundestag’s military commissioner, Hans-Peter Bartels, complained about “large holes in personnel and equipment” in the Bundeswehr in a separate paper published in mid-February.

Number of German weapon systems ready for action:

  • Typhoon jets: 39 of 128
  • Tornado jets: 26 of 93
  • CH-53 transport helicopters: 16 of 72
  • NH-90 transport helicopters: 13 of 58
  • Tigre attack helicopters: 12 of 62
  • A400M transport aircraft: 3 of 15
  • Leopard 2 tanks: 105 of 224
  • Frigates: 5 of 13
  • Submarines: 0 out of 6

According to local media, the German Defence Ministry said that a higher number of training missions and deployments since Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine in 2014 had caused existing equipment to wear down quicker than it had previously.

“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,” warned 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The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.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:

It gets worse. According to local media, 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.

Believe it or not, there’s more.

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.

Recently, a classified German Defense Ministry report says the country’s fleet of Tornado fighter jets may be unsuitable for conducting NATO missions, several media outlets said.

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.

It is understood that this 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.

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Daniele Mandelli

If Comrade Corbyn gets in they would probably replace the UK. The UNSC P5 is made up by the victorious powers of WW2. Times change and once enemies like Japan are now firm allies, but for me the P5 need to be those nations with the biggest economic, military, diplomatic, Intelligence, and “Soft Power” clout, as well as being self proclaimed nuclear powers. Germany does not tick all those boxes, the UK does. The far left seems to find the idea of the UK being a major power in world affairs disturbing, and would prefer we become little Britain mowing… Read more »


Do you hate the far right as well?

Daniele Mandelli

Hate is the wrong word sole I don’t agree with far left policies and much of the pc crap that comes with it.

The far right can be equally distasteful to me, yes.

But being a major player on the world stage, an independent nstion ( Brexit ) controlling immigration ( note I say controlling not stopping altogether) and maintaining our national identity are not far right, despite what the liberal left likes to claim, so why ask me that?


Agree with Danielle. I wish the tories weren’t in power, but given who controls Labour, who even cares any more. Any one but them


Fair enough. And because you mentioned Jeremy Corbyn and far left in the same comment, he is left wing, about as left wing as you can get in political terms but he is anything but far left. Calling him far left is like calling Nigel Farage far right, which is ludacris he a right wing in policy terms. It’s a common occurrence in this country, liberals like to call people like Farage far right and conservatives like to call people like Corbyn far left, and they are both wrong. Either way I’m not starting a political debate on here again… Read more »


What is really interesting is that the far right and far left tend to end up with the same outcome….. Totalitarianism, Oppressed population, rampant corruption and lots of dead people.

Can’t be doing with any of emm…….. Love me my liberal views, and before anyone says anything if your not a paid up believer in a communist, corporate state or anarchist your a Liberal.

Daniele Mandelli

No worries mate. I thought Corbyn was far left myself but if I’m wrong in that fair enough.


(Chris H) Daniele – Corbyn is only ‘of the Left’ rather than ‘far left’ in the eyes of those ‘of the Left’. Likewise those ‘of the left’ or ‘remainers’ call Farage a Right Wing Nazi. Indeed I have been called that for my Brexit beliefs although I have never given a rigid right arm salute. How you view people stems from your own political bias. I try to be politically neutral but Labour frighten the life out of me. So from ‘the Centre’ I see Corbyn and McDonnell to just name two as about as far left as you can… Read more »

Richard Smith

You’re joking right? Of course he is far left!
One policy alone – rent controls – would cause devastation. The Japanese said it wrecked their cities as much as the bomb on Hiroshima!
Corbyn is absolutely bonkers. For the record I think Farage is too but Jeremy is far further left than Farage is to the right. Just look at Jeremy’s past compared to Farage’s – no membership of the BNP etc with Farage. Jeremy has been a member of all sorts of hard left organisations.


This is about joining as a non-permanent member – without a veto. The UK can’t be replaced from the P5 unless they vote themselves out.

Daniele Mandelli

Or voluntarily step down.


Yeah, come on…

Daniele Mandelli

Yeah come on. With the current government that wants the UK to have a world role.

Let’s see what happens if, heaven forbid, those Marxists get in shall We?

Steve M

There should be some form of punishment from NATO for this kind of laxity.

David Steeper

Germany has no interest in defending others and no need to defend itself. The cash it would otherwise spend on defence it spends on R/D and infrastructure. As to defending itself they’ve plenty of skirts between themselves and Russia for them to hide behind. And even if the worst comes to the worst they have the UK and US willing to pay millions to the German govt for the privilege of defending them.


German infrastructure spend is very low, R&D yes.


An interesting move which if it were to happen would put the UK ( and perhaps France also) on the spot as regards our relationship with the US and the primacy of NATO. A French and German ‘alliance’ would effectively create an EU voice in the security council. I believe the German ministry of defence want more Typhoons to replace their ageing Tornados while the Lufwaffe would like F-35s. It will be interesting to see which way this decision goes. Is Typhoon being used to drive down the price of F-35 or does Germany really want to keep the UK… Read more »

David Stephen

When the Germans decide to assert themselves I worry.


I know….its in the genes ?
But they must be fed up with Airbus being essentially French. Girlpower is running Germany now plus I reckon we have built a sound foundation of trust and technical respect with the Eurofighter project. This could work well for us.


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. Couldn’t this be resolved with the Germans ringing up other users of the Tornado (UK, Italy and Saudi Arabia) and asking: “What NV googlies do you use at night?” Seeing as all three have used the… Read more »

Steve M

I would imagine the other users don’t have the same issue with the display lighting. That being said, I can’t understand how or if the Luftwaffe has been operating Tornado at night since 1979. Unless the displays are new?


Just looked into this further:
” However, Germany’s planes never received the crucial overhaul given to the British Royal Air Force’s Tornados, which included night vision devices. ”

that said the issue appears to have been partly resolved after this photo came out in the wash:
comment image

well the story did break in Jan 2016.

David E Flandry

We cannot have simple solutions like that. There needs to be a committee to study the problem for months, then send out for bids, months to consider bids……..


Germany and a whole host of other countries have been non permanent members before this is a complete non story


Agreed, a whole load of nothing. Non-permanent members are voted in all the time on a rotating basis.


Not saying ours would be bad but seeing those asset availability figures for subs, jets, helicopters, frigates etc all summarised together makes me think that it would make a really interesting table to see columns added for at least the U.K., France, Australia, USA and Russia added. Others would be interesting too but those would be top of my interested-in list.

Percentage availability and absolute numbers of operational units would both be interesting to compare although for the USA probably only percentage availability make sense to compare since we already know their absolute numbers are vast compared to anyone else.

Paul T

In terms of Economic strength and Financial power Germany will always be one of the worlds major nations ,but as for Miltary power I think history will always constrain them to being a Toothless Tiger.


Maybe the Germans can buy our Tonkas?

Levi Goldsteinberg

Literally what could be going through their bloody heads


I wonder if she is still a closet ‘communist’ from when she was a real one growing up in East Germany. She did quite well in the communist party and Germany is certainly weaker now since she came to power…. Russian plot? Part of a long term goal?


I’m referring to Merkel btw.. 🙂


The key here is “non-permanent” as opposed to “permanent”. As someone said, a non-story. However, I do wonder if it is increasingly difficult for UK (and France) to remain permanent members. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a leftie or trying to dumn down, but in the last 70 years, other countries and blocs have come to the fore. For instance, could UK + France be replaced by the EU and one other? Perhaps the UK does uniquely tick a set of boxes. Given the utter impotence of the UN for the last 30 years or so, perhaps it doesn’t… Read more »


It’s the easiest thing in the world to remain a permanent member – on account of P5 members having a veto. Unless any P5 member votes themselves out, there’s going to be no change to their status. The only prospect of change is when another country can claim to represent a P5 member and win a popular vote in the UN – as was the case with the two Chinas, and with Soviet Union and Russia.

It could be later on that France is consumed by a federal EU state however. France could lose it in this way.

Sceptical Richard

The world is changing. Military power alone is no longer the only thing that counts. Economic and political blocks and regional power politics are shifting. The legacy of WW2 counts for less each day. New alliances are being formed around the world and new centres of influence and power. The old special relationship with the US cannot be relied upon for ever. The UN is increasingly ineffective. France is now closer to the US than we are! With Britain out of the EU France will realign and Germany will flex its economic muscle. Not a brilliant idea to leave the… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

How is France closer to the US than we are?

Because Macron is having a state visit with Trump?

Because Sadiq Khan and various others don’t want Trump to visit?



When Trump gathered Macron and May around his war table he asked, what can you provide for a strike on Syria. France says 5 destroyers, 10 fighters, 2 AWACs and 6 tankers. Trump looks at May, 4 Tornadoes that are being scrapped in 6 months.


I remember when the DBR had a very large, credible, and combat ready military when I was stationed there for the first time in the early 80’s… Still remember the BAOR too. Larger than the entire current establishment I believe…

Pity. If the DBR wants a Security Council seat perhaps they should fix this military version of a Steptoe and Son’s junkyard…


Daniele Mandelli

Yes Helions. 3 Armoured Divisions plus Corps troops.


Worked with CENTAG in Heidelburg often. Quite a concentration of forces back then. Memories! Used to date the daughter of the USAF Boerfink Bunker staff at Neubrucke AFS.


Daniele Mandelli



Fading memories… – Nostalgic site here:

Great troops and true professionals even though one of my NCO’s was branded “A Philistine” for downing his brandy too quickly in a mess get together one evening! 😀



India and Brazil max. That’s as far as the UNSC should expand. I don’t even know about including Brazil tbh.


They are not expanding they are voting on five non perm seats which are rotating.

Mr J Bell

India yes by account of its huge population. Germany no on account that they bring nothing to the party except a useless military and a desire to rule Europe through economic means, having failed in 2 world wars.


Two of the seats have to got to nations in the Western European group, India can’t have one of the seats German is after as its not an Asian seat.

Sceptical Richard

I just cannot believe the rabid anti German feelings expressed here’s! They are a close ally for Christ’s sake!


They are voting for a total of 5 non perm seats, 2 are allocated to Western European nations group ,this includes Israel as we offered them a place in our group ( after Asia turned them down) the big issues is all the western nations promised Israel a free run at one of the seats this this time around. Now German has put its name up we have three nations in our group ( Israel, Germany and Belgium), this has pissed off Israel something rotten.

Mark L

Does anyone really care about the UN any more? Serious question, it seems to have disappeared from the world stage.

And as for Germany becoming one of the non permanent members of the security council, some of the current members are Equatorial Guinea, Bolivia, Peru and Cote d’Ivoire. So it seems that it really doesn’t matter who the non permanent members are…..


What’s the big deal? Germany has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council five times. Non-Permanent members are voted in for two year terms. The UN has been in existence for 73 years and Germany has been a member of the Security Council for ten of those years. Am I living in some alternate reality?

Daniele Mandelli

I think the headline in the article misled, especially myself.

As others are saying this is for a non permanent position, I took it to mean displacing one of the current permanent states.

So I agree with others a non story and capability of their military meaningless.


Given Russia’s propensity to veto anything meaningful at the UNSC I think the whole UN thing is now past its sell by date and an international luxury we can do without. Syria using chemical weapons was OK for Russia so it barred any action by the UN against its ally. Castration by veto! Of course Russia doesn’t bother with the niceties of the UN, and therefore having its actions vetoed, when it wants to cause trouble or pay back perceived grievances – like in Georgia, Ukraine, Crimea and now Syria. And our action against Syria without a UN Resolution shows… Read more »

Mr J Bell

Chris you are utterly correct in all that you say. We live in a messed up world where our so called friends and allies behave as they do towards the UK and then expect our support.
Enough is enough. No to Germany getting a seat on the UN. I would rather Lichtenstein got the place.