Only 29 of Germany’s 66 Tornado jets are airworthy, a defence ministry report has revealed.

Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has 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:

“The state of our flying systems remains unsatisfactory”

A defence ministry report obtained by German media blamed the problem on the “lack of availability of various spare parts”.

The readiness of Germany’s armed forces has long been the subject of criticism. Technical problems grounded German military aircraft delivering weapons to Kurds fighting IS in northern Iraq and medical aid to West Africa during the Ebola outbreak.

Defence cuts announced in March 2003 resulted in the decision to retire 90 Tornados from Luftwaffe service. This led to a reduction in its Tornado strength to four wings by September 2005.

In January 2004, the then German Defence Minister Peter Struck announced further major changes to the German armed forces. A major part of this announcement is the plan to cut the German fighter fleet from 426 in early 2004 to 265 by 2015.

The German Tornado force was reduced to 85, with the type expected to remain in service with the Luftwaffe until 2020.

The aircraft being retained have been undergoing a service life extension programme. Aircrew training takes place at Fliegerisches Ausbildungszentrum der Luftwaffe, based on Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, US.

44 COMMENTS

    • The last of ours were built in 1998 I think, they’re not that old compared to other defence equipment and the avionics an weapons are constantly updated. The Germans have never deployed anywhere since the 40s.

    • The Panavia Tornado and its variants have been an outstanding workhorse for the RAF. One the best multirole strike aircraft ever built. But like all electromechanical things, if you don’t look after it, it won’t return the favour.

    • It is more costly to run and while as a platform it can hold more weaponry you need friendly airfields to fly from – the harrier was carrier borne – I ran the official numbers for an MA thesis a few years back – the Libya campaign was 3 times more costly than it needed to be, and nearly 40% of all the sorties launched were by a single French carrier, both aircraft were sufficient to the task but the Tornado was kept – I’d argue because the Navy were a bit wet when arguing their corner and the RAF are better at selling themselves

    • The Luftwaffe also have the Euro Fighter so they are by no means under equipped to defend their skies. I never saw the logic in scrapping our carrier based Harrier force a good 15 years before the full introduction of its successor. But maybe the powers that be know something we don’t. F35 will be well worth the wait despite what the doomsayers and armchair Generals say. Its the love child of a Harrier and an F22.

    • The Harrier was not retained as it lacked the capability for in depth strike. The Tornado is all weather…The Harrier is not (something that would have heavily restricted its deployment). The Tornado already had Brimstone and Storm Shadow integrated. The Harrier is not a strike platform. She was only ever intended to provide CAS in hi vis conditions.

      So in terms of Libya the Harrier was a vulnerable asset.

      The Harrier wasn’t RN….so your point there is moot. The Harrier was primarily RAF with RN pilots as part of the Harrier joint force structure. The decision wasn’t anything to do with the Navy it was my own backyard with the RAF. Tornado was retained as we felt long term it offered more capability…which it clearly does.

    • The Tornado aircraft platform as a whole IS multirole as there are three primary variants: Tornado IDS (interdictor,strike)Tornado ECR (electronic combat,reconnaissance) and Tornado ADV (air defence variant) interceptor aircraft. They are multiroles. I repaired them for 20 years.

    • Yes yes I agree the tornado is a versatile airframe it’s bigger and had millions spent on converting it to a fighter variant etc, but it is inherently limited by being lame based, as I said, I feel the Harrier flown by the RAF or the RN) of a carrier would have been better until the F35 came along – what use would a tornado be in a Falklands style war?

    • What I’m getting at is I a world of expeditionary operations carrier strike gives you something land based cannot – that’s why everyone with carriers has been using them and we’ve been flying from Cyprus or Surrey

  1. Germany is not allowed to build their own weapons. If they are allowed, their weapons will be almost as good as those of Americans, just like what happened during WW2. This is especially in terms of aerial weapons.

  2. The German approach to defence is typical of the cosy left wing perspective of most EU governments that somehow the world has evolved beyond war. There is a political reflex in these countries which makes then reluctant to spend even the minimum on defence. This is both a naive and criminally incompetent approach to foreign affairs. There is no guarantee that the world we live in based on international law will last. In fact the only reason this environment exists is because it was paid for out of the blood of British and American servicemen. In my view the current state of German defences is reason enough on its own to disbar Merkel from holding any high office within the Germany.

  3. It’s the eventual fate of all combat aircraft to take on a ground attack role when they become passé. Some of these were shot down in the first Gulf War, so not without risk.

  4. RUSI have stated the RAF have around 56 of the 98 Tornados fit for operational use – and by the way the Germans have deployed to the region for one year only and in a none combat role – as for our deployment it seems to be political rather than an operational need the USA and others from the region have some much more in terms of assets than we could ever provide

  5. It does kind of raise the question of just how much of each countries on paper military hardware, is actually in a useable condition and actually works.

    Wasn’t there the story of our tanks stored in Germany not being in usable condition also.

  6. The Germans are planning on replacing these aircraft from the mid 2020s. They will be attempting to to find partners to develop a new combat aircraft next year.

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