The deficiency of operational armored vehicles in the Bundeswehr is now so bad that soldiers are officially advised to use cars and pretend they’re driving tanks during training exercises, a media report claims.
The situation is so desperate, according to the confidential army documents obtained by the Bild newspaper. The documents suggest that military units lacking the necessary equipment should work out “alternative solutions” and find “innovative training opportunities.”
The German defense ministry confirmed troops were deploying ‘other vehicles to practice mounting and dismounting’ because of the lack of Puma tanks. Instead, the soldiers were using cars because only 20 percent of the Bundeswehr’s Pumas are in working order, according to Bild.
Bundeswehr’s “problem kid”
Supposedly one of the world’s best-protected IFVs, Puma (Schützenpanzer or short SPz) – which was soon dubbed Bundeswehr’s “problem kid” – has a troubled history. When the Bundeswehr was about to receive 350 Pumas in 2018, it was revealed that the “state-of-the-art” vehicles – often referred to as light tanks due to their size and weight – are not suitable for soldiers taller than 1.84m.
Furthermore, the costs of the 350 new Pumas ordered, and the upgrades on the existing models had doubled from an estimated £2.5 billion to £5 billion since last summer, public broadcaster MDR reported.
The defense ministry blamed contractual issues and further unforeseen requirements for modernizing its old tanks. The dire situation is reminiscent of German troops being required to use broomsticks painted to look like guns during a NATO exercise in Norway in 2014.