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.