The equipment of the German armed forces is not only a national matter, the Bundeswehr is an alliance army. Which weapon systems it needs is primarily based on NATO’s military capability requirements.

The expectations of the partner countries in the alliance are easy to understand. In addition to the continuation of nuclear participation through a modernized fleet of combat aircraft by the Luftwaffe through the acquisition of the US F-35 stealth bomber, NATO is primarily concerned with functioning land forces from Germany. “We are a military land power in the heart of Europe,” General Jörg Vollmer, commander at NATO’s operational headquarters in Brunssum, recently told WELT. The army must again “be able to set up large units ready for action, which are fully equipped with all equipment”. The first division must be operational by 2025.

Against this background, the list of armaments that Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) wants to procure with the 100 billion euros from the debt-financed special fund initially raises questions. The largest branch of the armed forces, the army, should only receive 16.6 billion euros. The air force and the navy, on the other hand, are given 40.9 and 19.3 billion euros.

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The defense politicians of the Union see an imbalance in this distribution. “There is an unbalanced relationship between the air force, navy and land forces here,” criticized Henning Otte (CDU), deputy head of the defense committee. Florian Hahn (CSU) also made “a few question marks” on Lambrecht’s list.

In the army itself, the situation is seen more relaxed: they are quite “satisfied”. In fact, there are significantly more items related to the army in the project list than are listed under the heading “Dimension Land”. According to WELT information, around 12.5 billion euros flow to the army from the 20.7 billion euro expenditure item “Leadership of the Bundeswehr”, especially for command posts and radios. The army soldiers also share EUR 1.5 billion of the EUR 2 billion for personal equipment. Reference is also made to transport and support helicopters, which are formally part of the Air Force but are used primarily by land forces.

The army is more concerned about the Chancellor’s recent commitments to arms deliveries. In the Bundestag budget debate, Olaf Scholz (SPD) announced that he would supply Ukraine with the most modern German air defense system, the Iris-T, manufactured by Diehl. The Federal Government also wants to provide Kyiv with four Mars II multiple rocket launchers from the Bundeswehr’s stocks. Depending on the ammunition, these artillery pieces can hit targets up to 40 kilometers away.

According to WELT information, the Ministry of Defense is also checking whether more tank howitzers 2000 can be sent to Ukraine. There was no comment on the request. So far, the delivery of twelve howitzers is planned, seven of which will come from the Bundeswehr and five from the Netherlands. However, the sale of Mars II rocket launchers and the Panzerhaubitze 2000 weakened the army’s artillery, which was already thinly deployed. There one wonders when a replacement will be procured – and how it will be paid for. In any case, this is not shown in the special assets, nor is the lack of ammunition. That alone will trigger procurement costs of around 20 billion euros by 2030.

No complaints are heard from the Navy. The smallest branch of the armed forces apparently lobbied most successfully with Minister Lambrecht. In addition to the 19.3 billion euros that are shown in the list for ship types from frigates to submarines, the maritime patrol aircraft, which is formally assigned to the Air Force, is also one of the maritime capabilities. The Navy has also managed to accommodate purchases that were previously subject to the budgetary reservation of financing in the special fund. It will be interesting how the minister justifies this.

In need of explanation, Lambrecht already brings the first decision that she announced on her procurement list. Around six of the 40.9 billion euros earmarked for the Air Force are to be spent on 60 Chinook CH-47F heavy transport helicopters from the US manufacturer Boeing. The CH-53K from the US company Lockheed Martin, which was initially a little more expensive but cheaper in long-term operation and, above all, technically significantly more powerful, failed – which caused irritation within the traffic light coalition.

“The FDP wants a cost comparison, both in terms of acquisition and operating costs,” said defense policy spokesman Alexander Müller WELT. “I have doubts that the budget committee will simply release so much money without this transparency.” Müller is not the only one who has doubts as to whether Boeing can actually deliver the air refueling capability of its Chinook required by the Bundeswehr and within the price range.

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