Only 39 percent of new weapons delivered to the German military in 2017 were ready to be fielded.
The remainder had to be modified after delivery from the manufacturers before they were ready for use.
The German Defense Ministry admitted the problem after being questioned by leftist lawmakers in Parliament last week. "Especially worrisome were Airbus A400M military transport aircraft and the Puma infantry tank delivered since 2010 by a German consortium comprising Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall Defense," according to the German newspaper Deutsche Welle.
"Only 27 of the 71 Pumas delivered last year; half of the eight A400M delivered; two of seven Tiger combat helicopters; and four of seven NH90 transport helicopters were operationally ready last year. Of four new Eurofighter combat jets delivered in 2017, one could be used. The other three were being fitted with new main computers."
Matthias Höhn, a leader of the German political party The Left, denounced the German government for tolerating "this arms industry slovenliness at the cost of taxpayers."
The readiness revelations cap what seems to be an endless stream of bad news regarding the Bundeswehr, or German armed forces. A 2017 report by the RAND Corp., an American think tank, found that Germany would require a month to mobilize to mobilize and dispatch a heavy armored brigade to the Baltic States in the event of a Russian invasion, and only at the expense of stripping equipment from other units. Last summer, the Luftwaffe revealed that most of its 128 Typhoon jets were not ready to fly.
Earlier this year, a Parliamentary report found that no submarines and none of the Luftwaffe's 14 large air transports could be deployed because they were under repair. "Other equipment, including fighter jets, tanks and ships, was outdated and in some cases not fully operational because of bad planning or a lack of spare parts. Some air force pilots were unable to train because too many aircraft were being repaired."
The report blamed cutbacks in defense spending. "A lack of funding and inefficient management structures and planning were behind the problems. Germany has cut defense spending since the end of the Cold War. In 2017, it spent about 1.2 percent of its economic production in 2017 on the armed forces, which is below the 2 percent target recommended by the NATO alliance."
The Bundeswehr is hardly the only military that has problems with maintaining its weapons. The U.S. Air Force, for example, is having difficulty maintaining its 186 F-22 stealth fighters due to organizational problems and lack of spare parts.
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Nonetheless, the picture that emerges is of a military that is a shell of its Cold War power, let alone a force that terrified the world from 1870 to 1945. German defense officials have called for big increases in military spending, a sentiment shared by the Trump administration, which has accused its European allies of not contributing their fair share to NATO defenses.
Image: Creative Commons.