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(No) Smoking Gun: Almost Half of German Army's Weapons Unfit for Duty - Report

Recent findings underscore the deep-seated problems haunting the German armed forces.

Many primary weapons systems in the German Bundeswehr are not fit for training exercises or deployment, a new Defense Ministry study has revealed.

According to the "Report on the Operational Readiness of the Bundeswehr's Primary Weapons Systems 2017," which will be presented to parliament on Wednesday, only 39 of the 128 Eurofighter jets in the German arsenal are now ready for action, less than half of the 224 Leopard 2 tanks are ready to roll and a mere five of the Navy's 13 frigates are seaworthy, and the list goes on and on, Deutsche Welle reported.

The crew of a 'Buffalo' wrecker tank, right, of the German Army lifts the engine of a Leopard 2 battle tank, left, for repair during a demonstration at the Bayern Barracks in Munich, southern Germany, on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008 - Sputnik International
Over Half of Bundeswehr's Leopard 2 Tanks Not Operational
The Defense Ministry blames the lackluster picture on a higher number of training missions and deployments since the outbreak of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014 which it says is responsible for the great deal of wear and tear in the existing equipment.

On the Mend (Sort of)

Looking on the bright side, the report points to certain improvements in the combat readiness status of most weapons systems though, with about 550 more weapons available for deployment in 2017 compared to 2014.

The Defense Ministry said that readiness for weapons used in active foreign missions was also higher than average and Germany was now ready to fulfill its obligations to the NATO alliance, including the deployment of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) — a highly mobile force of 5,000 soldiers set up to deter an assault on smaller NATO members.


Defense Minister von der Leyen defended the Bundeswehr's progress in a media interview on Tuesday.

"We cannot make up for the years of reductions and cuts over 25 years," she told the Bavarian daily newspaper Passauer Neue Presse.

Admitting that the country’s €200 billion ($250 billion) military modernization program was "a long and arduous path," the Minister insisted that the government would stay the course no matter what. 

READ MORE: German MP on Bundeswehr's Underage Soldiers: ‘Army is Not a Playground'

To meet its NATO obligations, Germany needs to continually increase military spending year-to-year until 2030. Anything less will mean that the country will spend less than the current 1.2 percent of GDP on defense, already significantly below the 2 percent commitment made by NATO members in 2014.

Angela Merkel’s coalition government of conservatives and  center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have agreed to set aside €10 billion for the Bundeswehr in a deal which is still pending parliamentary approval.

The Defense Ministry's report comes just days after the parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Hans-Peter Bartels, complained about “large holes in personnel and equipment” in the Bundeswehr.

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