Germany Considers Defence Cuts
Posted: 07/12/2010 12:00:00 AM EDT
The German government is taking measures to cut costs where possible in order to reduce its federal debt and consolidate the budget, with potentially severe consequences for defence. A letter from the State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance has indicated the sums to be saved in the budgetary cycle of 2011 to 2014 amount to a total of EUR 4.3 billion (US $5.28 billion).
Programmes which may be affected include the EC655 Tiger (UHT variant) multi-role fire support helicopter as well as the NH90 tactical transport helicopter, both produced by EADS' Eurocopter division. The A400M Military Heavy Airlifter, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Tornado Interdictor Strike Aircraft (IDS) are other Luftwaffe platforms that will likely be impacted.
The A400M programme has been criticised by many high level officials, including Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. This project, in conjunction with the NH90 transport helicopter programme and the Tiger attack helicopter programme, has proved to be a source of growing frustration on account of excessive delays and spiralling costs. Luftwaffe observers predict that the A400M order may be further reduced on cost grounds, possibly resulting in one of the two planned wings being closed.
The Eurofighter Typhoon fleet is unlikely to be extended beyond the 137 aircraft contracted up to and including the Tranche 3A variant. As of March 2010, the Luftwaffe had accepted only 48 into service.
A total of 85 Luftwaffe Tornados in both ECR (Electronic Combat and Reconnaissance) and IDS variants are undergoing an upgrade in the latest phase of the EADS Avionics System Software Tornado Ada (ASSTA) programme. However, this number may now be reduced at a date sooner than previously expected.
The acquisition of the Medium Extended air defence System (MEADS) and the Herkules Information Technology modernisation and outsourcing project are also considered vulnerable in this current climate.
Of the 42 NH90s on order for the Luftwaffe, deliveries of the CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) variant were progressively cut back from 23 to just 12 helicopters. German CSAR capability now rests with the Army’s upgraded Sikorsky CH-53GS heavy-lift helicopter. The Luftwaffe hoped to field a CSAR capability by 2014, but with the specifics of the Luftwaffe CSAR requirement now uncertain, it is possible the mission will remain with the Army, leaving the Luftwaffe NH90s to operate in the conventional search and rescue (SAR) and utility roles.
It has been decided to phase out the fleet of six Type 206A submarines, which would focus the Navy’s submarine service on four Type 212A boats. The operation of 10 143A fast attack craft is also under review.
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