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’ was presented to Germany’s lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

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The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.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

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John Clark

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


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??


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… Read more »


I saw this picture the other month:
comment image


What’s the obsession with Germany? Why not France Spain or Italy?

Mark L

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.

Daniele Mandelli

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… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

And to add to that. Yes the Waffen SS committed atrocities too, plenty of them. So did the Wehrmacht.


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.

Daniele Mandelli

Agreed Frank.


Fascinating comment Daniele, not really something I’ve read up on but that has made me want to learn more about it for sure.

Just a quick look online and 900k soldiers it had at one point, you must assume that they were not all died in the wool nazis, some brave, honest soldiers in there I bet.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes mate. Some like to dress it up as a forerunner to NATO, as it had many Dutch, Wallonian, Latvian, and other Nordic recruits, which is certainly stretching it way too far.

For example, one of its best formations, 5th SS Panzer, was called Wiking. ( Viking )

Sadly as I referred to above as well as being some of the finest soldiers the Germans had they also committed numerous atrocities and did indeed provide staff for the camps, the Einzatsgruppen, and its most dodgy formations fought in the anti partisan war behind the lines. Dreadful stuff.


900,000 at one point yes, and approx 300,000 of those would have been technically people of the Soviet Union largely Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Russian, even Chechen and Turkmen, then you also had divisions drawn from the Balkans….Croats, Bosnians, Albanians. Some of those units especially the Russian ‘division’ under Kaminski and penal units under Dirlwanger were responsible for some of the worst atrocities commited during the entire war. Prior to the war to get into the Liebstandarte you had to show German ancestry going back generations, and be at least 5’10” in height I think…funny how Himmler’s racial policies went… Read more »


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.


They had quite a successful record pre WW1, pretty sure they won every war barring one with Napoleon in the entire 19th century.


I hate to be picky, but Germany didn’t become a “unified” country until 1871. Prior to that it was a confederation, and we have all seen who that has worked or not recently with the EU

Harry Bulpit

Not being satirical but would love to see a report like that over hear. Think it would clear a lot of confusion.


The government release a yearly document detailing how many ships, aircraft, land vehicles, and formations are in the UKs inventory. it also details how many vessels of military are available to the UK. You can read through the documents here:

(the second document, a spreadsheet, is particularly interesting).


these are ‘as at figures’ which anyone that works for a company with an annual reporting period knows there is lot of figure fudging going on around the key date. No way to know how representative they are to the average position over the year, so best taken with a pinch of salt.

Probably the same with the German data, worst position in the year taken so someone is able to make a political point.


Most likely, but it’s better then no data.

Harry Bulpit


David Steeper

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.


To be fair it is not completely one sided, the German bases gave more room and different conditions for our forces to train. Plus gave troops more overseas ‘safe’ deployment options which no doubt helped recruitment.

Daniele Mandelli

I’d far rather our soldiers spend their money expanding our economy in our country than Germany.

David Steeper

Well said.


maybe some soldiers don’t like being based here… the moment I was given the option to be based abroad, i and just about everyone else jumped ship. our wages spread twofold, our training was infinately better, accommodation was first rate, the unit was tighter and far more operationally effective with CDT results almost never coming back with fails. fast forward to now, in the UK, the lads couldn’t give two fucks about the job as they just want to get off home, CDTs come back with a platoons worth of fails and we went back to focusing on pomp, some… Read more »

BV Buster

+1 That reaper, same with my unit. (could be same unit)

[…] 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 f…, according to a new German Defence Ministry report. The ‘Report on the Operational Readiness of […]

Mr J Bell

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… Read more »

Andy G

Mr Bell, we need to defend Europe, no matter what. Its shocking that the germans are in this state, but if russian tanks start rolling so do ours.

[…] 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 f…, according to a new German Defence Ministry […]


As this story has come up again, this news from last week is most relevant and telling about the sorry state of the German armed forces: Luftwaffe chief dismissed over F-35 support The Chief of the Luftwaffe is to leave his position in large part due to his support for a German procurement of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), Jane’s has learned. Lieutenant General Karl Müllner will leave his position by the end of May, with the news of his retirement breaking just two days after Germany’s defence secretary, Ursula von der Leyen, was sworn… Read more »

Mr J Bell

That is interesting.
You can only deduce that Germany are not going to purchase F35B. What will they do then? More Eurofighter but ask for our tranche 3 or a new tranche 4 and hope it’s multi role capabilities are enough. They probably would be ok but the German airforce needs 70-80 new aircraft. More good news for British jobs. The Eurofighter programme might just get upto 800 airframes yet.

Mr J Bell

Also if going for tranche 3 they would have to order brimstone and stormshadow missiles. Great! More good news for British jobs. I wonder if we should charge them £37 billion for the pleasure of helping them out. That seems to be what they are going to charge us for a democratic vote to leave the EU. Most of the pressure to pay the EU comes from our two closest allies France and Germany.


Reading this again and I notice the link to operations in Ukraine and the increased wear and tear. Does make me think that the reason the British capability troop wise seems much lower then equal spending France is probably down to us having been involved in endless conflicts over the last 20 odd years. If one deployment has caused this much problem for Germany, how much problems must a real conflict situation have caused us in iraq/afgan/Libya. Will be interesting to see what impact Mali has on the French funds.

Geoffrey Roach

…..and meanwhile the defence secretary gets her job back!


Is it certain that the unavailability rates are all down to equipment/maintenance/spares issues? The UK has (allegedly) at least one T23 tied up alongside due to personnel issues. A quick Google search gave latest 2017 unemployment rates of 4.3% for the UK (Nov 2017) and 3.6% for Germany (Dec 2017) and maybe with more newly arrived migrants in Germany who I am not sure would be eligible for joining the military the pinch is even greater on number of potential recruits vs the UK. Just from the unemployment rates and possible other issues such as the migrant one and maybe… Read more »

Mr J Bell

Interesting points Julian. I do think the German military are struggling to recruit but that is because of low investment in military. A lack of public awareness in Germany that their military even exist or are struggling (until recently) and the fact you can get a very very well paid job in Germany very easily and with the Euro whichGermany uses to drive their growth and keep an undervaluee currency, the Germans have low cost of living. Economically their economy is doing very well. Militarily they are in pieces and would struggle to stop a military incursion by just 2… Read more »


Germany’s armed forces may be in bad shape but don’t assume that Canada’s are that much better. They aren’t.

John F

The Germans seem to be just like us, with too many assets and not enough staff, or spares.
Our RN ships sit in Portsmouth, understaffed, or are broken, we scrap a large part of our tank fleet, cannot staff our infantry ( partly because the recruitment process is a complete farce, as my son found out), and are ready to cut the RN Marines, and abandon the RAF Tornados.

I wouldn’t be too critical of the Germans.

[…] This comes at a bad time for the German military, not long after the scathing ‘Report on the Operational Readiness of the Bundeswehr’s Primary Weapons Systems’ was published. The report lead the Bundestag’s military commissioner, Hans-Peter Bartels, to complain about “large holes in personnel and equipment” in the Bundeswehr that have resulted in two thirds of the German armed forces being being non-operational. […]

[…] Read more on the report here. […]

[…] and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense Ministry recently released a controversial assessment of German military capabilities which claimed that “less than a third of German military […]

[…] and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense Ministry recently released a controversial assessment of German military capabilities which claimed that “less than a third of German military […]

[…] and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense Ministry recently released a controversial assessment of German military capabilities which claimed that “less than a third of German military […]

[…] and burned out on the launcher. The German Defense Ministry recently released a controversial assessment of German military capabilities which claimed that “less than a third of German military […]

[…] They’re doing a bang up job. […]

[…] sensitive issue in Germany and their seems to be little inclination to change that. Last month the UK Defence journal highlighted the woeful state of German […]

Mark Mitschow

This is one of the very few issues where Trump is spot on. No mutual defense pact has ever been sustainable over time when a majority of the members insist on shirking, and if things don’t change NATO won’t survive either. For 25 years now every US administration has politely complained about EU defense freeloading yet the situation has only gotten worse. Since the “nice guys” couldn’t concentrate the deadbeats’ minds on this perhaps it was appropriate to see if the biggest a**hole in our country could do better………

[…] Last year we reported that the vast majority of major weapons systems in the German military were un… for training exercises or deployment, according to a German Defence Ministry report. […]

John Wood

Meanwhile our putative carrier fleet, ( and the 45’s for that matter) shorn of any CEC capability and intending to use helo’s for FOAEW for God’s sake, all thanks to budgetary restrictions, would be boiled into the North Sea in about 15 minutes by and determined attack by a modern adversary.
We’ve not much to crow about here in UK.