The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology & In-Service Support, the military’s procurement agency, accidentally leaked secret information while taking bids for a contract on the purchase of new heavy transport helicopters worth €5.6 billion, Die Welt has reported.
According to the newspaper, the leak resulted in classified information meant to be sent only to selected bidders Boeing and Sikorsky being sent to other bidders seen as possible contractors. Die Welt suggested the incident was another demonstration of the poor condition of the German military.
Germany’s Defence Ministry downplayed the leak’s significance, saying that “no damage” had been caused, with the documents having only a Level 1 classification, far less sensitive than financial planning documents used by the ministry, for example, which carry a Level 3 classification.
Commenting on the incident, Bundestag MP and Free Democratic Party defence policy spokeswoman Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, called the leak a sign of incompetence, saying “sometimes, one is stunned by such dilettantism,” and urging newly appointed Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to reform the procurement agency as soon as possible.
Rudiger Lucassen, a retired colonel and MP from the Alternative for Germany Party, told Die Welt that the incident showed that the Procurement Office was “hopelessly overwhelmed.”
The Bundeswehr currently depends on 71 Sikorsky CH-53's for its heavy lift transport needs, although it has been estimated that only 16 of the helicopters, bought in the 1970s, remain in working order. After German unification in 1990, the Luftwaffe inherited 98 Soviet-made Mi-8 transport helicopters of various modifications from the defunct East German Air Force, but these were retired in 1997, and either scrapped or sold on to third countries.
Also this week, the Bundeswehr reported that it has temporarily grounded its entire fleet of 53 Eurocopter Tiger helicopters due to technical faults. Luftwaffe chief Lieut. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz said the air force as a whole was “at a low point,” with aircraft commonly “grounded due to a lack of spare parts, or aren’t even on site since they’re off for maintenance.”
Gerhartz’ remarks followed a recent acknowledgement by the German government that Germany was failing to meet NATO training requirements of 180 hours of flight time per year per pilot due to a lack of working aircraft, with only 512 off the Luftwaffe’s 875 pilots said to have met their targets in 2018.
Recently, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer promised to hit the 1.5 percent of GDP mark in defence spending 2024, closer to the 2 percent of GDP spending demanded by US President Donald Trump. Germany’s defence spending will hit about $50 billion in 2019, or the equivalent of about 1.38 percent of GDP.