The German military has been actively lobbying for increased funding amid pressure from Washington to increase NATO defense spending, even as the Federal Republic’s military budget is already set to reach over $51 billion in 2019.
Just over a third of the fresh military equipment delivered to the Bundeswehr by manufacturers in 2017 is fit for service, the German MoD has revealed in a fresh report. Of the 97 major pieces of equipment delivered to the armed forces last year, only 38 of them were combat ready, the report says.
According to the report, of the 71 Puma infantry fighting vehicles delivered, 27 are combat ready. Of the eight fresh Airbus A400M Atlas military transports, half are fully operational. Just two of the seven Eurocopter Tiger combat helicopters and four of seven NH Industries’ NH90 transport helicopters are combat ready. Furthermore, just one of the four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets delivered in 2017 is fit for service.
Berlin is looking to achieve an equipment readiness level of 70 percent, and is most concerned with the state of the Puma and A400M deliveries. MoD parliamentary secretary of state Peter Tauber said the quality of the planes was “increasing,” while urging the defense industry to “reach the agreed upon indicators as soon as possible.”
The operational readiness of the fresh equipment looks bleak even compared to the overall readiness of the 5,000 pieces of equipment already deployed by the Bundeswehr, according to dpa. A February 2018 report concluded that well over half of the existing equipment is combat ready.
Die Linke MP Matthias Hohn criticized the situation surrounding the fresh equipment, calling defense minister Ursula von der Leyen’s decision to “allow this multi-billion dollar bungling by the arms industry at the expense of taxpayers” a “scandal.”
According to Hohn, the defense minister has not lived up to her own plans of increasing readiness. “Brand fresh military equipment directly from the production lines of the defense industry doesn’t work. It is unacceptable to accept equipment…and pay for it when it doesn’t work,” the lawmaker stressed.
The state of the German military has been the subject of controversy amid regular reports of equipment and supply problems, staff shortages, and complaints of underfunding. Earlier this month, German media reported that none of the newly-developed assault rifles expected to replace the G36 rifle met the army’s expectations. Before that, problems were reported with the military’s existing equipment, including its Leopard 2 main battle tanks, Tornado combat jets, submarines, and other equipment, much of which has been described as being in a poor and “outdated” state.
Germany spent over $44 billion on defense in 2017, making it the ninth-largest spender overall, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute statistics. The proposed 2019 defense budget has set aside $51.2 billion for defense, which is $4.7 billion more than Berlin is slated to spend in 2018.
Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump called on Washington’s NATO allies to spend 4 percent of GDP on defense, up from the existing 2 percent of GDP standard. German opposition lawmakers called such demands “absolutely crazy,” given that there is no major external threat facing Germany. According to Die Linke lawmaker Alexander Neu, only the defense industry and military were interested in more spending, whereas the public is more interested in social welfare spending.