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The problem, he explained, has worsened over time due to the German military not replacing out of date equipment.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

43 COMMENTS

  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.

        • 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.

          • 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.

  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.

    • 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

  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.

    • 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.

        • 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 bullshit about shiny toecaps and creases whilst being blighted with poorly executed training on restricted areas. Being abroad is a blessing in disguise for the army and it’s staff.

  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.

    • 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.

  7. 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 in for another term.

    http://www.janes.com/article/78644/luftwaffe-chief-dismissed-over-f-35-support

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 also an older average population (is that true? They do have birth-rate issues) I can imagine that the German military might have even more problems filling positions than the UK so perhaps that is a factor in availability rates as well. If yes then it could reflect in the other numbers such as spares and maintenance provisions because, particularly in peace time, if you know you only have pilots for 40% of your planes (say) then why strive for 60% availability and similarly for other assets.

    I’m not saying the above is the case, just throwing out an idea and asking if anyone has data on that.

  12. 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 Russia divisions with air support.
    They might need to spend some of their tens of billions of budget surplus on their armed forces…shock…rather than just relying on us and USA and Canada to have their bloated, beaurocratic backs.
    If buying new equipment do not buy German
    Leopard tank weak armour, easy to knock out.
    Type 125 frigates 400 tons overweight and listing 1.5 degrees and unable to perform mission bay load out due to excessive top weight.
    Not exactly impressive.

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

  13. 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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here