September 30, 2014 By SPIEGEL Staff
Germany wants to strengthen its role in international affairs. But recent reports suggest the country's weapons systems are in such disrepair that Berlin actually has very little to offer its partners.
Last week, a single person pushed Germany's air force to the very limits of its capacities: Ursula von der Leyen, the country's defense minister. Von der Leyen requested that two Transall military transport aircraft with missile defense systems be transferred to Amman, the Jordanian capital. The defense minister and a pool of reporters then flew for eight hours on Thursday morning in one of the aircraft to Erbil in Iraq's Kurdish region. Back in Germany, the military had but a single additional Transall at its disposal.
After her arrival in Erbil, von der Leyen proceeded to the palace of the Kurdish regional government's president. Her visit was to be concurrent with the delivery of German weapons, intended to aid the Kurds in their fight against Islamic State jihadists. Unfortunately, the machine guns and bazookas got stuck in Germany and the trainers in Bulgaria because of a dearth of available aircraft. One had been grounded because of a massive fuel leak. What could have been a shining moment for the minister instead turned into an embarrassing failure underscoring the miserable state of many of the Bundeswehr's most important weapons systems.
|Bundeswehr - Operational Capability of Select Weapons Systems|
|Weapons System||Total Number||Available||Deployable|
|Sea King helicopter||21||15||3|
|Sea Lynx helicopter||22||18||4|
|Eurofighter fighter jet||109||74||42|
|Tornado fighter jet||89||66||38|
|Total stock = all procured units
Available = in operation, including systems currently out of service because of maintenance or repair
Deployable = can be used immediately for missions, exercises or training
*includes pre-production models
Source: Bundeswehr German Armed Forces