Only 1 in 3 new tanks delivered to German armed forces operational: report

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German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel one day after state elections during a party leadership meeting in Berlin, Germany, March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Only 38 of the 97 heavy military equipment newly delivered to the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) in 2017 can currently be used, according to an official report by the ministry of defense seen by the German press agency (dpa) on Wednesday.

According to the report in response to a parliamentary enquiry by the left party (Die Linke), the quality of delivery could “still be improved” particularly regarding the A400M transport aircraft and the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. Only 27 of the 71 Puma tanks delivered last year are operational and only four out of eight new A400M aircrafts are airworthy.

“We are still seeing the industry in the duty to fulfil the stipulated services as quickly as possible,” said parliamentary state secretary Peter Tauber in response to the enquiry by Matthias Hoehn, member of parliament of Die Linke.

Operational readiness of the new military equipment is well below the average of all 53 main weapon systems that are available to the German military. The latest internal investigation from February 2018 shows that over half of these older weapon systems are operational. The goal of the Bundeswehr is to keep 70 percent of its weapon systems ready for deployment.

Defense minister Ursula von der Leyen announced a major reform of Germany’s armed forced shortly after she took office and seeks to significantly improve the operational readiness of the German military’s equipment. According to left party member Hoehn, von der Leyen would not live up to her own expectations. “It is a scandal if Ms. von der Leyen allows this billion-dollar botch by the arms industry at the taxpayer’s expenses.”

On Wednesday, von der Leyen visited a German field camp near the Oslo-Gardermoen airport which is part of the multinational NATO maneuver “Trident Juncture” currently taking place in Norway. During the NATO operation, Germany deploys the second largest contingent of troops after the United States with about 8,000 soldiers. In addition, almost 100 tanks and several ships of the German navy are taking part in the “Trident Juncture” maneuver in the Scandinavian country.

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