Ready or not?
When creating a new scenario one of the challenges is to decide not only which units should be included but also how many of them will actually be able to fight. So the question is: Ready or not? The German “Bericht zur materiellen Einsatzbereitschaft der Hauptwaffensysteme der Bundeswehr” (Report for the readiness of the main weapon systems of Federal German Army) gives us a change to evaluate the readiness of the weapons of one of the major NATO members.
Even though some critics say the report is biased in favor of the Verteidigungsministerium (Ministry of Defense) it is surprising in what a bad shape many systems currently are and how unlikely it is that the situation will improve in the future.
The Bundeswehr was founded in 1955 when the Federal German Republic regained most of its sovereignty and joined the NATO. Today the Bundeswehr has a strength of 176.752 active soldiers and a budget of 34.3 billion Euro. The budget is supposed to be increased over the coming years to around 40 billion a year in 2020.
Even though this puts the Bundeswehr into the top ten of the biggest military spenders the years of austerity after the end of the cold war have left a mark and many systems are outdated and new systems often years behing the scedule. The transition from a conscript army only intended to defend Germany to a professional army operating alongside the German allies all over the globe has also turned out to be a challenge.
For more information about the Bundeswehr you can take a look at my article about naming german units here on Baloogan Campaign.
The Heer (army) is the biggest of the four branches of the Bundeswehr. Currently 59.136 soldiers are serving in the Heer. Since COMMAND is concentrating on Air and Naval Operations the weapon systems of the Heer might not be of the biggest concern for this article but should be included nonetheless.
The Leopard 2 is the main battle tank of the Heer and replaced the Leopard 1. The Leopard 2 entered service in 1979 and will remain in service for the foreseeable future even though the development of a successor was announced recently (Main Ground Combat System). In 1990 the Bundeswehr fielded 2125 Leopard 2.
The Heer currently has 244 Leopard 2 and on average 167 Leopard 2 were available and 132 of those were considered combat-ready. Additional 84 Leopard 2A7V are supposed to arrive until 2022. The number of Leopard 2 in service is supposed to reach 328 eventually. In 2016 the number of tank battalions was increased and the PzBtl 414 was formed as part of a dutch mechanized brigade under the command of the German 1. Panzerdivision.
Even after the arrival of the A7V Version and a possible successor on the horizon plans for further modernization continue including replacing the 120-mm-Glattrohrkanone L/55 with a 130 mm version.
The Panzerhaubitze 2000 (armored howitzer 2000) is a self propelled 155mm howitzer and considered to be among the most advanced and powerful conventional artillery systems in the world. The Heer currently has 124 systems since 22 were sold to Lithuania in 2015. The level of availability is considered to be high. In 2015 66 Systems were available on average and of those 43 were combat-ready. The low rate of combat readiness is supposed to be caused by ongoing modernization and a high wear on the systems caused by exercises.
The number of available units is considered to be sufficient for the current tasks of the Heer.
The Schützenpanzer Puma is a modern infantry fighting vehicle designed to replace the Schützenpanzer Mader. The Puma is armed with a fully stabilized 30 mm autocannon enabling the Puma to fire on the move. As secondary armament the Puma has a 5,56 mm MG4 and Spike anti tank missiles.
Germany has ordered approximately 400 Pumas and the first Pumas entered service in 2015. Currently 89 Pumas have entered service with 48 systems available on average with 23 systems ready for service. The system is not yet ready for combat and still under development.
The Marder remains the weapon of the Panzergrenadiere (mechanized infantery) until the Puma is fully available. The Marder entered service in 1971 and around 2100 Pumas were produced for the Heer. The Marder is armed with a 20mm cannon.
Currently 388 Marder are in service of which 321 were available on average. 222 Units were considered combat ready.
The situation of the material mentioned above is problematic enough but the Heer manages to fulfill its obligations within the NATO. Really problematic is the situation where planes and helicopters are concerned.
The UHT is a medium-weight multi-role fire support helicopter. Armed with HOT-3 or PARS 3 its main role was to destroy soviet tanks but this has changed over the years even though the missing MG remains problematic.
Currently 42 Tiger are in service, 27 available and 12 ready. This is an increase of nearly 50% compared to 2015.
Even though the Tiger is not really ready for combat four Tiger were deployed in Afghanistan between 2012 and 2013 and in 2017 the Tiger will be deployed to Mali as part of MINUSMA together with the NH90.
The NH90 is a medium sized transport helicopter currently entering service. Currently the Heer has 48 Systems with 29 Systems available on average with only 9 fully operational. It remains problematic that a high number of the helicopters are only prototypes, that spare parts are not available and maintenance crews are still training.
The development of the NH90 SeaLion is still delayed and the first working units are supposed to arrive not before 2019.
The CH-53 is the heavy transport helicopter of the German Heer. Currently the Heer has 72 CH-53 but the number will be reduced to 66. Of those 72 only around 60% were available due to the undergoing modernization to the version CH-53GA. Of those 60% only 40% were fully operational. Some spare parts are no longer available on the marked so that maintenance becomes increasingly difficult.
The Luftwaffe is the German air force with currently 28,186 active soldiers.
The Eurofighter is a highly agile multirole fighter. Currently around 487 units have been build. The Eurofighter has replaced the F4 Phantom as fighter aircraft in the Luftwaffe and serves in the Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader “Boelcke”, the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71 “Richthofen”, the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 73 “Steinhoff” and the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74. The Eurofighter is used for the two QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) for Germany.
Currently 123 Eurofighter are in service with around two thirds available and 50% of those fully operational. Missing spare parts and time consuming maintenance are responsible for the low number of available units.
The Luftwaffe has currently 93 Tornados. Two thirds were available but only 44% operational on average. Undergoing modernization to the ASST A3 version and missing spare parts are considered responsible for that unsatisfying situation. The Tornados are used as Tornado IDS (Interdiction Strike), Tornado Recce (Reconnaissance) and Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat Reconnaissance). As part of the Operation Inherent Resolve Tornado Recce are supporting the international coalition against ISIS.
The Tornado is used by the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33 and the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 „Immelmann“. As part of the Nuclear Sharing the Tornados of the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 33 are trained and equipped to use nuclear weapons.
The Tornado will remain in service for the foreseeable future.
The A400M Atlas is a transport aircraft for tactical and strategic airlift and operated by the Lufttransportgeschwader 62. Constant delays of delivery have caused that the Luftwaffe has only received 5 A400M until 2016. Around half of those units were available on average but that decreased towards the end of the year.
In December of 2016 the Luftwaffe received a 6th A400M and the first unit fully certified for tactical operations and equipped with counter measures. Eventually the Luftwaffe will have 40 A400M even thou 53 have been ordered but 13 will be sold to other countries.
Since the A400M is still delayed the C-160 Transall will remain in service until 2021. Originally 110 units were ordered but only 41 remain in service. Of those 75% were available on average.
With 16011 soldiers the Marine is the smallest force of the Bundeswehr. Even though the Marine is small it is involved in more operations around the world then the other parts of the Bundeswehr.
The Bundeswehr had 14 frigates in 2016 including 4 units which are no longer operational. In general the availability of the frigates is considered to be good but the low number units stretched over the high number of operations is problematic.
Bremen-Klasse (F 122)
The Bremen Klasse was build between 1979 and 1990 and its main capability is submarine hunting. Originally 8 units were build and three remain in service.
- Karlsruhe (F 212)
- Augsburg (F 213)
- Lübeck (F 214)
The units will be decommissioned between 2017 and 2021 and replaced by the Baden-Würtemberg Klasse (F 125).
Brandenburg-Klasse (F 123)
The Brandenburg Klasse was build between 1992 and 1996 and replaced the destroyers of the Klasse 101/101A. Originally the main focus was anti submarine warfare but the units have been equipped with the ESSM to increase the AAW capability.
- Fregatte Brandenburg (F 215)
- Fregatte Schleswig-Holsten (F 216)
- Fregatte Bayern (F 217)
- Fregatte Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (F 218)
Sachsen-Klasse (F 124)
The Sachen-Klasse was build between 1999 and 2005 and replaced the destroyers of the Lütjens-Klasse. The ships main role is anti air warfare.
- Fregatte Sachsen (F 219)
- Fregatte Hamburg (F 220)
- Fregatte Hessen (F 221)
A fourth unit was considered but not ordered due to budget cuts.
Currently the ships of the Baden-Würtemberg-Klasse are under construction. The first unit, the Baden-Würtemberg (F 222) is currently undergoing trials. Main focus of the class are peacekeeping missions and long maintenance periods. For the first time two crews will be switching places so that the ship can remain in the field for over a year before returning to Germany for maintenance.
- Baden-Würtemberg (F 222) – commissioned in 2017
- Nordrhein-Westfalen (F 223) – planned for late 2017
- Sachsen-Anhalt (F 224) – planned for 2019
- Rheinland-Pfalz (F 225) – planned for 2019
The units will be replacing the Bremen-Klasse.
The Braunschweig-Klasse replaced the attack crafts of the Marine. The first 5 units were build between 2004 and 2007. Technical difficulties delayed the commissioning for years. The units are designed for maritime surveillance.
- Korvette Braunschweig (F 260)
- Korvette Magdeburg (F 261)
- Korvette Erfurt (F 262)
- Korvette Oldenburg (F 263)
- Korvette Ludwigshafen am Rhein (F 264)
In 2016 it was decided to order additional five units since the first five required more maintenance then expected and the NATO demanded more available ships from Germany. It was decided to use the existing class to prevent long development times. The units are supposed to be ready in 2019.
The Marine is operating six units of the Klasse 212A. On average three of the six boats were available. The time consuming and complex maintenance of the units and the fact that three of the boats are still undergoing trials were responsible for that. It was not problematic to fulfill the NATO requirements of one available unit though.
The Marine has currently 22 LYNX mk 88A. Usually around 5 units are ready. It remains problematic that the Navy needs at least 6 units to fulfill all obligations and secure training at the same time.
The Marine has 21 SEA KING Mk 41. The Sea King is mainly used for land based SAR and to support special forces of the Navy. Only four(!) units were available on average even though the Navy needs at least six fully operational units to fulfill all requirements. Even keeping four units ready is extremely difficult due to the age of the system and missing spare parts. Thy System is supposed to remain in service until 2023 and will be replaced by the SEA LION from 2019 onward but the Sea Lion is also delayed several years.
In 2003 Germany bought 8 P3C Orion from the Netherlands to replace the ageing Breguet Atlantic even though the dutch units were already 20 years old themselves. The first P3C Orion was delivered in 2006. The P3C is mostly used for maritime surveillance and participates in international operations like ATALANTA.
In 2015 three of the eight units were available most of the time but in 2016 it was unveiled that 30th September 2016 not a single plane was available and that one of the planes was less then three hours in the air in over 10 years.
P3C Orion Status
In general it can be seen that the units can be classified into three different categories:
- “old” systems fully available
- systems suffering from age and missing spare parts
- new systems not fully ready yet
Systems like the Leopard 2 are available in sufficient numbers and the ships of the navy are also not that problematic as far as availability is concerned. The overall number is of course another problem.
Really problematic is the situation were planes and helicopters are concerned. With the exception of the Eurofighter (to a certain extend) all systems used by the Heer, the Luftwaffe or the Navy are far too old or not yet ready. Leading to situations were civil helicopters are leased to train pilots and make sure they receive the necessary hours in the air to keep the license.
The delay in the MH90 Sea Lion program makes it difficult for Germany to fulfill its international obligation to provide SAR helicopters.
Really bad is the situation concerning the P3C where even after 10 years most units are still unavailable. This is even more problematic since the RQ-4E Euro Hawk has been canceled.
Even the planned increase in military spending will only help a little since it will not overcome technical difficulties in newly developed systems and missing spare parts will still be missing.