The first pre-contract tests of the newly-developed assault rifles have revealed that none of the models presented by competitors for the state contract meet the standards of the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr, German news outlet Die Welt reports.
The newspaper cited an insider report published by the German Defense Ministry's procurement office (BAAINBw), which reads that “in contrast to expectations, the presented assault rifles have failed to meet the requirements.” The military body has given competing gun makers until February 15, 2019 to address the weapons' flaws. This has stalled the revamp project initiated by German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen by at least 8 months, raising the cost of the procurement process by some $870,000.
The German military is planning to buy 120,000 new assault rifles, which would cost approximately $290 million. With the cost of support materials factored in, this sum would top $463 million.
The bidding process was set up in April 2017 after the defense minister from Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union decided to replace the G36 assault rifles the Bundeswehr has been armed with since 1996; the goal was to introduce more advanced guns by 2021.
According to the newspaper, von der Leyen criticized the current G36 model for its insufficient accuracy in extreme weather conditions such as heat or fire, which was contested by the rifle producer, industry giant Heckler & Koch. The court sided with the manufacturer, ruling that the G36 didn't have any of the faults which the defense ministry had hoped to address.
State auditors have also called into question the submitted rifles' penetration power, claiming the firearms don't meet the Bundeswehr’s requirements, as specified in the RFP. According to the BAAINBw letter, the potential contractors have submitted only 5.56-millimeter-caliber models, while some forces require rifles capable of firing 7.62-millimeter rounds. If the military planners confirm this, the contest might be revised, which could move the revamp deadline forward even further.
Earlier this year, the German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that the Bundeswehr plans to allocate more than 450 million euros ($546 million) to the modernization of its armed forces in 2018 alone.
The move came amid reports that the German army has been suffering equipment and staff shortages, including issues with Tornado combat jets and Leopard 2 tanks, which are in a poor and "outdated" state.