British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has hosted his counterpart from Germany, Ursula Von der Leyen, in London where stronger ties were discussed.
According to the MoD, the pair and their teams met to discuss strengthening defence ties. The German Defence Minister and Gavin Williamson also took the opportunity to meet a group of German junior officers, who have been learning about UK defence at the Ministry of Defence.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“The UK and Germany face the same intensifying threats to our way of life and we work closely together to protect our citizens from harm.
Germany is one of our closest allies and I look forward to even closer cooperation.”
Germany was formally recognised as a ‘tier one’ ally in November 2015’s Strategic Defence and Security Review. However recently, we reported that 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 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The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.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.
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.