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German Armed Forces reduced to 150 000?


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Unsurprisingly for anybody who has followed the slow growth of troop strength in particular - since previous defense minister Ursula von der Leyen announced a "trend change" for personnel in 2017, recruiting efforts have succeded in increasing the number of active troops only from about 177,000 to 183,000, about 2,000 per year - a current report of the MoD to the Bundestag's defense committee warns that even more than limited financial mid-term planning, a lack of personnel is threatening implementation of capabilities announced to NATO for 2031. Even if the current target of 203,000 by 2025 was met, actual requirements look to be higher.

 

Just saw a report that 183,000 had been exceeded at last year's end. For scale:

 

December 2015: 177,100

 

December 2016: 177,600

 

December 2017: 179,600

 

December 2018: 181,300

 

December 2019: 183,700

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it's clear that the German government has focused at least a little on the more immediate concerns about the state of its armed forces. This is mainly evidenced by last may's announcement of an increase in defence spending, but it seems that there is some effort to spend the money well, rather than pissing it all away on new development weapon systems. there is an effort as noted above to improve manning, but also equipment readiness which as we've noted in the past has been dreadful, and also some signs of improving weapon stocks.

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Invitation to tender for the Bundeswehr's future Heavy Transport Helicopter is finally out with half a year delay for initial failure to apportion money in the defense budget.

 

Boeing and Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky issued their tenders for the CH-47F and CH-53K respectively on 13 January. Final offers to be made at the end of the year, to be decided on in early 2021, with deliveries envisioned from 2024.

Edited by BansheeOne
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It seems AKK's mention of mission in Africa and Asia in her recent speech had a specific background after all. There is talk of granting a French request for greater participation in fighting terrorism in Mali with up to 500 troops, including the training of local special forces; and indeed to deploy a frigate to the Pacific. Interestingly the latter is reportedly an initiative of the foreign ministry for a change, related to Germany's current seat in the UNSC and chair of the North Korea sanctions committee. This would come under the header of embargo enforcement, but could include the odd cruise through the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea. I guess they could hop around ports in South Korea and Japan. Allegedly the chancellor's office is not behind this though because, of course, it doesn't want to put additional strain on relations with China.

 

Well, Type 124 frigate Hamburg will deploy in mid-May for this year's French-hosted Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and bilateral DEFRAM exercise off Réunion held in late June, then continue towards Australia and make various port calls around the Indian Ocean from there on a total turn of five months. No mention of the Pacific though.

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The defense budget is now planned to be higher in the next years than originally projected, if Corona doesn't eat it all up - the Bundestag authorized an unprecedented add-on to the national budget yesterday, suspending the constitutional debt cap to borrow an additional 156 billion Euro. The measures also include buying more medical equipment for the Bundeswehr at a cost of 150 million, but the defense plans separately call for 45.6 billion for each of the next three years, about 0.6 more than this year. Original numbers were 44.26, 44.29 and 44.16 for 2021-2023 respectively. Critics had long complained about the mild mid-term reductions envisioned by the ministry of finances.

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Former commanding general of the Deployed Forces Command Rainer Glatz and former Bundestag defense ombudsman Hans-Peter Bartels wrote a short paper for the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP) think tank (German) suggesting ways for the Bundeswehr to get more bang for the buck, contending that under the current organization, increasing defense spending mostly means more money gets burned inefficiently. Main points:

- Less brass, more troops by amalgamating some or all of the additional interservice branches that have been created over the last decades (joint force base, medical service, cyber and information space) and reducing commands overall.

- Give procurement decisions back to the individual services rather than the central Federal Agency for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr.

- However, bring back the MoD's planning staff abolished in 2012, and equip the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr better to fulfill his tasks as military advisor of the government and administrative superior of all troops.

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On 8/1/2019 at 12:56 PM, BansheeOne said:

The replacement of the Marine's worn-out Sea Lynxes will be an ASW variant of the NH90 called Sea Tiger, supplementing the Sea Lion transport/SAR variant already succeding the Sea Kings. I guess commonality (and probably NIH) won out. There are of course also concerns - NH90 is too big for the hangar of the Type 123 frigates which will still be in service when it is planned to come in (I guess they will have to wear out the remaining Lynxes), and the hangar doors on Type 124 will have to be enlarged. OTOH, the order is for 30 Sea Tigers plus one testbed to replace the 22 Sea Lynxes, which is commendable in and of itself as an increase of capabilities.

The Bundestag's budget committe signed off on the order of 31 Sea Tigers worth 2.3 billion Euro. Another 400 million for contracts about equipment will be due at a later time.

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The usual adjustment session of the Bundestag's budget committee increased the 2021 defense budget by 120 million Euro over the planned sum to a total of 46.93 billion, 114 million of which for more ammunition. The additional raise is smaller than in previous years, in part because 145 million Euro planned personnel expenditures were already shifted into development of the "Eurodrone" MALE UAS since the corona crisis has impeded recruiting efforts this year; overall strength is currently about 183,500, down 2,000 from a six-year high in July - a major bump in the road towards the already ambitious aim to reach 203,000 by 2025. Other shifts included more money for 38 new Eurofighters to replace first-generation aircraft.

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Technical availability of Bundeswehr systens seems to improve by baby steps, though it's kinda hard to tell since details on individual types have been classified in reports of the last couple years - as it's widely suspected for PR rather than security reasons. So the only information the public is left with is that rates vary between 27 and 95 percent (average of 74 for all 69 main weapon systems listed, 79 for the twelve most modern like Puma, A400M and NH 90) for the last half year compared to 26-89 in the previous; the higher end is mostly due to newly acquired trucks. Older systems like Tornado, CH-53 and P-3C have a narrower range of 33-86. Overall, helicopters remain a source of worry with barely 40 percent availability across all types.

An improvement for Puma is expected when measures currently being implemented for the 41 vehicles earmarked for deployment with VJTF 2023 will be applied to the whole fleet from next year. A decision on procurement of a second batch has been postponed by two years to late 2022.

The replacement of Patriot by MEADS looks more in doubt than ever since after years of political prevacariation, industry now seems to have had enough. At least that can be read out of a reaction by MBDA Germany to no money being made available for the system in the 2021 budget, which they said forced a "restructuring" on them.

More doubts on arming the future Heron TP UAVs after defense politicians of the long-hesistant SPD had previously signaled agreement following the latest round of discussion. Then this week left-wing party co-head Norbert Walter-Bojans promptly went back to the old line that legal and ethical issues hadn't been sufficiently debated in society, to the annoyment of SPD MPs who had hoped to get rid of the topic before next year's elections. Defense procurement remains an uphill fight.

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On 12/13/2020 at 9:51 AM, BansheeOne said:

More doubts on arming the future Heron TP UAVs after defense politicians of the long-hesistant SPD had previously signaled agreement following the latest round of discussion. Then this week left-wing party co-head Norbert Walter-Bojans promptly went back to the old line that legal and ethical issues hadn't been sufficiently debated in society, to the annoyment of SPD MPs who had hoped to get rid of the topic before next year's elections.

This is becoming another annoyingly entertaining episode in the long-running "SPD, the party of peace" sitcom. After a debate on an upcoming motion of the Left Party and Greens against arming Heron TP this week, a majority in the party's Bundestag group adopted the national leadership's stance on the grounds that the recent Armenia-Azerbaijan war had shown that armed drones could not only be used to protect soldiers, but also for offensive purposes (shock, outrage). The party's parliamentary defense spokesman Fritz Felgentreu, a long-time advocat of acquisition, promptly resigned his position in protest (he wasn't going to run for his seat again anyway).

Bundestag defense commissioner Eva Högl, who had recently been installed by the group in an internally controversial move, pushing out co-partisan Hans-Peter Bartels, also criticized the decision on behalf of soldiers. New defense spokeswoman Siemtje Möller, Felgentreu's previous deputy, sought to downplay the impact by saying that more debate wouldn't delay introduction which was only planned for 2022. The SPD then voted against the motion of Left and Greens along with CDU/CSU, FDP and AfD. Reactions to it all weren't kind in all but hard-left-leaning media, and the latter criticized that the party hadn't finally ruled out arming UAVs once and for all.

Meanwhile the project of replacing the Marine's 40-plus-year old oilers Rhön and Spessart is the next victim of delays due to cost overruns. The decision to retire the old rebuilt civilian single-hull tankers which are no longer allowed to operate in waters of some NATO partners due to modern environmental protection standards and have increasing problems with engine reliability has been pending for over a decade. However, the tenders for the future bigger, purpose-built Class 707 oilers from two German shipyards reportedly carried a price tag of about 850 rather than the planned 500 million Euro. A new invitation to tender for reduced requirements may be issued.

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6 minutes ago, BansheeOne said:

a price tag of about 850 rather than the planned 500 million Euro.

Isn't it the stated policy goal to increase defense spending?

🤪

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On 1/25/2020 at 9:45 AM, BansheeOne said:

Just saw a report that 183,000 had been exceeded at last year's end. For scale:

December 2015: 177,100

December 2016: 177,600

December 2017: 179,600

December 2018: 181,300

December 2019: 183,700

To continue this - December 2020: 183,800. Really 183,777, just 110 more than a year ago. Things actually were a lot better in summer with a high of 185,200 in July, but obviously among many other things, COVID hindered recruiting last year. So there was little influx beyond making up for losses through troops reaching the end of their commitment.

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The Ministry of Defense has made a rather ambitious list of items to be passed by the Bundestag budget committee before summer recess, probably anticipating that campaigning and elections in September means regular parliamentary work will not resume before next spring. Major points (items with an asterisk don't even currently have funding secured):

- G 36 replacement, optics and other accessories (selection of Haenel MK556 still hung up over HK's patent infringement complaint) 

- more MG 5s to replace MG 3s

- fourth lot of MELLS (EuroSpike ATGM) 

- TLVS tactical air defense system and ground-based V/SHORAD*

- upgrade of first lot of Puma IFV

- second lot of Puma*

- Boxer with autocannon as Wiesel replacement in Boxer-equipped infantry battalions*

- replacement of Dachs AEV

- more funding for development of Future Main Ground Combat System with France as Leopard 2/Leclerc replacement

- same for Future Combat Air System with France and Spain

- same for "Eurodrone" MALE UAV with France, Italy and Spain

- same for PEGASUS surveillance system as replacement of failed EuroHawk and Triton-based UAV projects (Global 6000 already authorized as a now-manned platform, but currently no funding for integration of the SIGINT suite)*

- Eurofighter Long Term Evolution/Tornado replacement*

- Tiger Mk III attack helicopter (mostly wished by France)*

- Heavy Transport Helicopter as CH-53G replacement (selection between CH-47F and CH-53K recently stopped due to budget overruns of offered packages)*

- upgrade of CH-53G ESM suite

- more H145M utility helicopters*

- more flight hours on civilian contracted helicopters for joint forces pilot training

- joint C-130 operations for special missions support with France

- extension of Heron 1 UAV operations in Mali until March 2024

- replacement for P-3C MPA*

- development and procurement of helicopter drone for K 130 corvettes

- overhaul and re-certification of first batch of RBS-15 for K 130

- third batch of K 130 as replacement of first*

- development and procurement of U 212CD submarines with Norway (two for Germany) 

- three Type 424 ELINT vessels, a 130-meter replacement for the current Type 423

- new fleet oilers (previous procurement attempt recently stopped due to budget overruns of tenders) 

- upgrade of Type 124 frigate radars in ABM capabilities

- procurement of Naval Strike Missile

Plus various C4, night vision, logistics and habitation capabilities, ammunition, minor vehicles and watercraft, etc. 

 

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German Army: the Future Fires Concept

06/11/2020

By Paolo Valpolini

One of the more numerous armies in terms of tanks, armoured infantry fighting vehicles and artillery assets in the Cold War era, the German Army was subjected to heavy cuts after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact and the German reunification.

“During the Cold War the structures were optimised for National Defence. We had nearly 70 artillery and over 150 combat battalions,” Lieutenant Colonel Konrad Josef Leitner, Team Leader, Indirect Fire Reconnaissance, Concepts and Capabilities Development Group, Bundeswehr, says, beginning his briefing on the future of the German Army artillery at Defence iQ Future Artillery Online.

The feeling of stability and reduced tension in the Old Continent led to massive cuts in the Army structure, in particular in the areas of combat support, combat service support, and communication and information systems. “With regard to artillery, the development led to the current situation with only four artillery battalions left, the ratio to combat elements falling from 1:2 to 1:9 since 1990,” LTC Leitner points out.

The 2011 Force Structure sees one battalion, Artillerielehrbataillon 325, part of the 1st Armoured Division, two units, Artilleriebataillon 131 and Artillerielehrbataillon 345 , supporting the 10th Armoured Division, and finally Artilleriebataillon 295 providing direct fire support to the Franco-German brigade. These battalions field a variable number of PzH 2000 batteries, from 2 to 5, two of them being demonstration units and therefore with a peculiar organisation, one battery of MLRS each, KZO drones and two Cobra counter-battery radars each. In recent times tensions along eastern borders increased consistently, the Russian-Ukrainian war ringing more than one bell. The fact that the Russian T-14 Armata main battle tank is now considered by the German Army the benchmark in terms of potential opponent in the armoured warfare shows well the new situation.

“Since the beginning of the crisis in eastern Ukraine the foundations of foreign and security policy changed, and the Army Development Centre for Concepts and Capabilities was tasked to develop the new German Army organisation,” he explains. Based on the new MoD specifications a new structure was developed which end-state will see three divisions, two with three brigades each and one with only two of them, but with the capacity to take under command two extra brigades in Coalition operations.

Within this new organisation, which should be in place by late 2031, artillery assets will be considerably increased. “In the future there will be a total of three artillery regiments, one for each division, and one MLRS battalion. In case of National or Alliance Defence the assets of each artillery regiment will be split to form three Artillery Task Forces at Brigade level and one at Division level”,” LTC Leitner explains. The latter will be made of two howitzer batteries, one rocket launcher battery and target acquisition assets, therefore not much different from nowadays battalions, while Brigade artillery TFs will field only howitzers, and will also feature Joint Fire Support coordination elements. The German Army transformation will take place with a phased approach. Milestone 1 aims at having a Brigade fully operational for National and Alliance Defence by 2023; this date coincides with Germany taking the leadership of the NATO VJTF (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force). Milestone 2 will bring one Division at full level, with its three manoeuvre Brigades and divisional support troops; this is planned for 2027, hence the name “Division 2027” to the structure. “The new Division will be better able to perform robust and agile operations in high intensity combat, and to do so it will be readily available, capable of fighting, interoperable and sustainable. The final structure will be reached by late 2031, and at that date we want to have the three operational Divisions with a total of eight Brigades, with all necessary additional support units also at Corps level,” LTC Leitner says.

He also underlines that, “With the new Army task organisation we will not fully achieve the ratio of artillery versus combat forces we had during the Cold War, however the current roadmap is the right decision to resist, or be successful, against a peer opponent, and we are confident that the increased range and higher fire rate of tube and rocket artillery, as well as improved ammunition, target acquisition and joint fire support command and control systems, will ensure the timely support needed.”

Several improvements are planned, projects being already on their way in the artillery sector. The well known ADLER (Artillerie-, Daten-, Lage- und Einsatz-Rechnerverbund, artillery, data, situation and engagement computer network) system will be updated adding links to services of other joint support elements becoming a Joint Fire Support system. “The COISS STF, the Joint Fires Support Systems Network, will also provide tools that will support the decision-making process,” Leitner says, before switching to effectors which upgrades, beside increasing performances, also aim at reducing personnel.

New standard and precision ammunition will be acquired, and also the target acquisition system will be further developed; reconnaissance depth, endurance and accuracy, as well as number of available target acquisition systems will be increased. “Digitalisation, higher combat strength, greater ranges, and improved dual capabilities, will all feature in Division 2027, development being however a permanent process. The project for the antitank mine missile with a range in excess of 80 km and that of the Intruder UAS, which will operate at more than 300 km, are underway albeit in the very early stage. Another future project will be a loitering ammunition for precise target engagements in deep enemy-controlled areas. We also need more fire support for the Brigade. This is the reason why we require a considerable number of other guns in addition to the PzH 2000,” LTC Leitner illustrates. The main requirements for this new gun are high rate of fire, high mobility, even over hundreds of kilometres, and protection, a range up to 75 km with HE projectiles or 100 km with precision ammunition, and a high degree of automation, a wheeled solution being envisaged.

Numerous proposals mostly based on the Boxer chassis were made by the German industry in the past years. That said, LTC Leitner underlines that the backbone of the German tube artillery will remain the PzH 2000; “It was purposely developed for Cold War scenarios, to strike masses of mechanised troops, and still bears comparison with most modern self-propelled howitzers. However, after years of service, there are aspects that have to be modernised,” LTC Leitner says without revealing more details, although automation might well be part of the upgrade package, based on the technology insertion that is part of the increase of the German artillery effectiveness, which will also bring with it an increase in servicemen.

In conclusion, LTC Konrad Josef Leitner recalls the reasons for all this. “We all know that in the event of a conflict, NATO air dominance or air superiority in Eastern Europe will not exist anymore because of the spread of A2/AD assets. We must therefore be prepared to fight enemy artillery with Army resources, even at long ranges. No one else will do it for us,” and concerning the indirect fire effectiveness he underlines that, “In Ukraine 80% of all losses were caused by artillery. This once again underlines the relevance of artillery on the battlefield, and why it is necessary to increase the number of artillery forces.” That said, he promised to provide the audience many more details at the next Defence iQ Future Artillery Conference, tentatively planned for May 2021, COVID permitting.

https://www.edrmagazine.eu/german-army-the-future-fires-concept

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Germany also reported projected defense expenditures of 53.03 bn Euro for 2021 to NATO (about eleven percent of which outside the defense budget). For last year the projection was 50.3 bn for an estimated 1.42 percent of the GDP; in the end it turned out to be 51.54 bn for 1.57 percent, the latter of course disproportionally more due to the impact of COVID on the GDP. 

It all sounds quite nice, except that per a press report, the MoD's financial requirements analysis for 2022 predicts that the increases will be progressively eaten up by operating and maintenance cost, particularly for older equipment, but also pay and pension raises - to the point where they would consume the entire planned defense budget in 2027.

To avoid that, either the budget for 2024 would have to be increased by about 16 and the 2026 by 20.7 bn, or there would have to be a temporary foregoing of some capabilities. Of course it's not the first time the latter threat is being waved ahead of budget deliberations, and again with the impact of COVID, they probably feel the need to warn of loss of face to NATO allies if the money doesn't flow early. 

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The Bundeswehr has declared FOC for Puma in the variant upgraded for deployment with VJTF 2023. Of the 350 vehicles delivered, another 226 are to be brought to this standard until 2027 in addition to the 40 so far, to equip five Panzergrenadier battalions plus driving schools etc.

It's currently unclear what will happen to the remaining 84, and there is no budget secured yet even for the next 226. Expect nothing to move on this front before the national elections in September; finance minister and SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz reportedly wants to cut 42 billion Euro from the defense budgets over the next years, likely a campaign ploy. Of course it's dubious whether the SPD will even be part of the next government, so this basically means nothing.

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Not the Bundeswehr rather than Bundespolizei: Federal Police plans to procure 40-44 new helicopters to replace both its 19 Airbus (ex Eurocopter EC) H155 and 22 AS 332 L1 Super Pumas; some of the latter are about 30 years old and in 2019 had a availability rate of just 55 percent. The order would be worth about 1.8 billion Euro over the next ten years. They are looking at either new Super Pumas (presumably the EC/H225), the Airbus H175, or possibly the Leonardo (ex AgustaWestland AW) 189. Bell has also announced to compete with its 525 Relentless, but it's still not certified by FAA, and of course also NIH.

Federal Police additionally operate 22 EC/H135, in part under Germany's extensive national rescue helicopter network, and eight EC120 for training.

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