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The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.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


  1. Shocking, the Germans have become totally militarily ineffective, to think they want to share this nothing with an EU military force!
    What a joke!

  2. This situation can only be due to the Government not allocating enough funds? I’ve been watching a video of the German army on exercises, and there does not appear to be a shortage of Puma, Boxer and a host of other armoured vehicles? Their engineering capability looks very impressive too, as does the logistic fleets. Admittedly, I did not see many MBT’s??

  3. Just looking at the above state of play of the A400, the Germans only received their 15th kite last month from Airbus. Google
    German Air Force Receives its 15th A400M Multi-role Military Transport Aircraft

    for the story. Yet they have only 3 out of that 15 operation.

    Its the same with availability of Tigre/Tiger gunships. However what hasn’t been banded about this piece of kit, is one crashed in Mali last August, and that was due to its rotors falling off in midflight, killing the 2 crew members. google:
    German helicopter lost rotors before Mali crash: report
    The report out today blames the auto pilot Google:
    German military helicopter crash in Mali caused by incorrectly set autopilot-report

    Another thing , I have never understood abut the German version of the Tiger: There are 4 :
    German UH
    French HAP and HAD
    Australian ARH
    is that the Germans decided to leave out the chin gun, and instead went with a gun pod which takes up one wing weapons station. Very strange.

    • Considering Germanys economic power they’ve got no excuse for being in this situation. The other 3 countries you mention aren’t doing so well economically. To put it mildly.

    • Because Germany is the backbone of the EU, how can the EU create a credible “army” if Germany is effectively redundant ?

    • There are also historical reasons: during WWII and the subsequent division of Germany, West German soldiers probably displayed some of the finest soldiery the world has ever seen. Notwithstanding the horrors that their counterparts in the Waffen SS committed, the Wehrmacht was a highly capable and professional force. We should not draw parallels between now and 70 years ago, but invariably we will.

      • Just to add to that with a slight clarification. And at risk of being accused of being Nazi, which is total crap.

        You mentioned fine soldiery, well the Waffen SS were at the pinnacle of that, and a combat arm. Where you say soldiers of the Wehrmacht displayed some of the best soldiery, which is true, often the best divisions of the Waffen SS were at the fore. Anyone who is well read on World War 2 and especially the Great Patriotic War on the Eastern Front, as I am, will understand what I’m getting at.

        Though admittedly there was cross posting and overlap in many areas the “Weapon SS” was a different beast from the General SS, Einzatsgruppen, the Totenkopf Camp Guards, the Gestapo, SD and varied other parts of Hitlers terror apparatus.

        Problem is the victors always write the history books, and the term SS has rightly gained such infamy the heroics of Waffen SS Panzer Divisions at Kursk, Kharkov, and most notably for us Brits in Normandy in 1944 are forgotten.

          • Of course, I don’t know where it started, this myth of the Wermacht having no stain upon it’s record?
            Wermacht units were drafted in to help Einzattsgruppen units liquidate villages in the East.

            I do however, feel that we’ve gone slighly off topic.

        • Fully agree of course, the Waffen SS displayed excellent soldiery too, but as said, they were a direct tool of Hitler’s terror, whereas the Wehrmacht did have qualms (not always granted) about some of the more insidious pillars of the Third Reich. I am not defending either, merely commenting on their superb military capability.

  4. Oh how the mighty have falle- oh wait they lost every war they’ve started.

    Um…how the overhyped have floundered?

    Jokes aside the Germans really have no excuses whatsoever for the state of their military considering their economy. Now that it’s been brought to widespread media attention and presented to the Government we’ll see the true test. If they deal with it then fine. If they don’t and nothing improves then Germany must no longer be counted as a credible military force.

  5. Well they shouldn’t worry. The British Army is throwing is throwing its teddies out of the pram about finally leaving Germany. Almost 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall ! Why should they defend themselves when we’re generous to not only do it for them. But pay them millions a year for the bases there to do it.

  6. Pull the army out of Germany. They are not needed there and our “friends and allies” in the EU need to stand on their own feet.
    We should leave the whole stinking mess of the EU to themselves.
    Our government needs to revert to defence posture 1. Strong armed forces, well equipped and in greater strength of numbers than current. GDP to defence ratio needs to go back up sharply to stop the rot. 3+% needed and it needs to be set in law.
    Only if we have a powerful and credible armed forces will the world respect the UK and honour us as a trade partner.


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