Tag Archives: German Navy

Dark picture shows German Air Assets in deplorable state

The air assets of the German Armed Forces are in a even more deplorable state that before, and is becoming worse and worse. Helicopters, transport aircraft and combat jets are spending so much time on the ground that it hurts the defence capabilities of one of Europe’s biggest countries way too much. Many aircraft are not available for any duties they are so needed for, at home or with the 13 deployments abroad, including the “flashy” new Airbus A400Ms.

A rather dark image of the state of the German Air Force, Naval Aviation and Army Aviation was painted by German Parliamentary Commissioner of the Armed Forces Hans-Peter Bartels during a recent press conference in Berlin. The inspector says units are facing “an overload” with too many deployments that include the Baltic Air Policing mission providing NATO fighter coverage for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and with the helicopter squadrons of the German Army and Air Force.

The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
(Image © LAF Air Base)
The current German rotary air lift at full speed: a CH-53 lifting essential needs into a combat zone (Image © Marcel Burger)
The current German rotary air lift at full speed: a CH-53 lifting essential needs into a combat zone (Image © Marcel Burger)

“The German airlift capabilities have become so weak that days of delays and cancellations of (planned) flights into and from areas of deployment are almost a normality,” Bartels says. “The status of materiel is equally bad and in many occasions even worse than during my first inspection visit in 2015. At the end of last year not a single of the 14 newly commissioned A400M transport aircraft was available. Eurofighter, Tornado, Transall, CH-53, Tiger, NH90 … the flying units rightfully complain they fail in having the appropriate flight hours for their crews because too many machines too many days a year are not ready to fly.”

A German Army NH90 in the field. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
No stopping however for this Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud - as seen at Laage airbase in 2005. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No stopping this German Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud – as seen at Laage airbase in 2005. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Even the operation platforms of the German Navy helicopter fleet of Westland Sea Lynxes and in the future NH90 Sea Lion are far less than the German Ministry of Defence has promised to be available. Of the planned 15 frigates only 9 are in use and even they are often not able to sail with longer maintenance times in the shipyard for the aging vessels. Of the 220,000 job positions in the German Armed Forces, a massive 21,000 are vacant. Many troops lack winter uniforms or flack jackets.

© 2018 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

First picture: NH90 Sea Lion for Germany

An Airheadsfly.com visit to Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth on Friday 22 January produced the very first picture of the first NH90 Sea Lion helicopter for the Germany Navy. The helicopter is currently in final assembly and along with 17 others and from 2019 onwards, replaces the Sea King helos still in use with the Marine.

The first Sea Lion entered final assembly in October and is now having its electrical harnesses fitted, after which avionics and initial mission equipment will be installed. The helicopter is expected to fly for the first time in November 2016.

The naval variant differs from German Army NH90s as it has a stronger landing gear for deck landings, plus provisions for the installation of a full anti-submarine warfare (ASW) kit and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) kit. The German government still has to decide on the exact specifications, though. The Netherlands, France, Italy, Norway and Sweden already operate ASW-versions of the NH90.

Search and rescue

In 2019, the Sea Lion will be ready to take over search and rescue (SAR) plus transport and support duties from the Sea King, the oldest of which dates back to 1973. At a later stage, the new NH90 should be ready also to take over the ASW and ASuW role from current Super Lynx helos.

With the engines ans landing gear installed, this brand new NH90 for the German army, is almost ready to be moved to the so called Flightline hangar at Donauwörth for test flights (Image © Dennis Spronk)
With the engines ans landing gear installed, this brand new NH90 for the German army is almost ready to be moved to the so called Flightline hangar at Donauwörth for test flights. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
In the front the first German NH90 Sea Lion, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Airbus Helicopters is ramping up production tempo a bit in 2016. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Production

The last of 18 Sea Lions – total estimated cost 1.4 billion EUR – is to be delivered in 2022. Airbus Helicopters will slightly push production tempo in Donauwörth a bit to over ten NH90 helicopters per year. These also include the remaining NH90s for the German army, plus more ASW-variants for Sweden. Worldwide, 35 to 50 NH90s are manufactured yearly.

The NH90 has suffered from a bad reputation in Germany over maintenance and reliability issues. Airbus Helicopters is now retrofitting early production helicopters with the latest configuration including software and other upgrades. The company also says it is now getting good and positive feedback from NH90-pilots.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): The first German NH90 Sea Lion in production, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

The first German NH90 Sea Lion in production, in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) at Airbus Helicopters in Donauwörth, Germany (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Production of a single NH90 takes about 12 months. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Green light for German Navy NH90 Sea Lion, Army gets less choppers

Despite problems with quality control and the availability of spare parts for the Airbus Helicopters / NHIndustries NH90s of the German Army Aviation, the German Navy got the green light for the procurement of 18 NH90 Sea Lion maritime helicopters this week.

Berlin wants the Nato Frigate Helicopter (NFH) version of the NH90 to replace the aging Westland Mk 41 Sea King operating with Marinefliegergeschwader 5 (MFG5) at Nordholz, and the MFG5’s Westland Mk 88A Sea Lynx choppers that fly from German Navy frigates. The deal was okayed on 4 March 2015.

The land-based NH90 Sea Lions will operate as troop-insertion platform, support for naval special forces and as search-and-rescue chopper. The Sea Lion will be about 60 knots faster than the Sea King, which is one of the reasons why the Navy wants to move quickly forward with the purchase.

The future of German Navy Aviation: the NH90 to serve also in the naval special forces role like demonstrated here by the French Navy (Image © Airbus Helicopters)
The future of German Navy Aviation: the NH90 to serve also in the naval special forces role like demonstrated here by the French Navy (Image © Airbus Helicopters)

German Army Aviation
The Bundeswehr will go ahead with downsizing of the NH90 fleet. As propositioned earlier the Heeresflieger (German Army Aviation) will only get 80 NH90 TTHs, instead of the 134 originally planned a decade ago. Thirty-six were delivered at the end of 2014, but the introduction has been plagued by big operational issues and not even a single NH90 is said to be in full promised operational status. Another two NH90s will be purchased as training system.

A German Army NH90 in the field. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A German Army NH90 in the field. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Tiger attack helicopter
At the same time the Army Aviation has got to say bye-bye to 11 of its EC665 Tiger attack helicopters of the oldest batch. Berlin has set the operational level to 40 Tigers in total, while Airbus Helicopters delivers another 17 for attrition replacement, testing and training. After complaints about its quality on the battlefield the German Army finally received the last of a dozen upgraded Tiger UHT support helicopters in March 2014.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A maritime version of the NH90, this example serving the French Navy (Image © Marine Nationale)

Check our entire ↑ NH90 news and feature stream

Eurocopter EC665 Tiger UHT (Tigre) in German Army (Heer) livery at the 2008 ILA Airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld, Germany (Deutschland). UHT stands for Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger (Support Helicopter Tiger). The aircraft bears serial no. 98+26 and has no. 398 on the nose. (Image © Marcel Burger)
Eurocopter EC665 Tiger UHT (Tigre) in German Army (Heer) livery at the 2008 ILA Airshow at Berlin-Schönefeld, Germany (Deutschland). UHT stands for Unterstützungshubschrauber Tiger (Support Helicopter Tiger). The aircraft bears serial no. 98+26 and has no. 398 on the nose. (Image © Marcel Burger)

Alarming low availability German air assets

The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate (Image © Marcel Burger)
The star of current German airlift operations, the C-160 Transall, scores a 50% availiability rate
(Image © Marcel Burger)

LATEST UPDATE 5 OCTOBER 2014 (CORRECTION READINESS LEVELS) | The air assets of the Bundeswehr, the German Armed Forces, are at an alarming low availability rate, according to recent reports leaked to the public via German Der Spiegel magazine.

According to maintenance journals that the editors of Der Spiegel got their hands a shocking low number of only 8 (!) of an official 109 Eurofighter EF2000s, named Typhoon in British service, are fully ready for all combat tasks. Meaning the German Air Force has to rely much on the remaining, aging and maintenance-sensitive Tornado jets to fulfill its duties. But of these 89 swept-wing fighter-bombers and electronic warfare aircraft, only 36 were fully combat ready at the end of September 2014 according to German media.

Helicopters
The number of available Sikorsky CH-53s dropped vertically to as low as 8 machines this summer, while 67 are on strength with an operational aim of 42. The new NHI Industries NH90 – a European product with tremendous problems while being deployed with Germany units in Afghanistan – is not much better of: 5 of the 33 helicopters are flyable. The German Navy’s Sealynx fleet had only four machines available in September.

A main reason for all these problems is partly a lack of funds, partly technical issues with new equipment.

Airlifter
The current star of German international operations, the old C-160 Transall tactical airlifter that flies into Northern Iraq and provides an air bridge between Senegal and the MINUSMA force in Mali, has an availability of about 50 percent – with 20 to 25 of the 56 machines ready to go at a given time.

For airlift operations there is a small beam of light at the end of the horizon, as the Luftwaffe is expecting its first new Airbus A400M at the end of 2014. Hopefully the availability will be much better than that of the new Eurofighter jets. Airheadsfly.com already reported in December 2013 that some of those remain grounded for years in a row.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

The nightmare helicopter of Europe: the NH90, here an German example (Image © Marcel Burger)
The nightmare helicopter of Europe: the NH90, here an German example (Image © Marcel Burger)
A rare sight in German skies, an Eurofighter EF2000 that seems to be fully combat ready (Image © Marcel Burger)
A rare sight in German skies, an Eurofighter EF2000 that seems to be fully combat ready (Image © Marcel Burger)
A pair of German CH-53s training from Alpnach Airbase in Switzerland in 2008  (Image © Marcel Burger)
A pair of German CH-53s training from Alpnach Airbase in Switzerland in 2008 (Image © Marcel Burger)

Tornado Time

Fly low, hit hard. That sums it up for the Panavia Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Follow the leader! (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Just because we feel like it, and just because we can; it’s Tornado Time. Want loud? Want fast? Want beastly? Want a true Cold War working machine? The Panavia Tornado had and continues to have it all. Its numbers crowded European skies in the eighties and nineties, but those numbers now start to decrease slowly but steady. We take the time to look at its noisy and low-flying career.

The Tornado earned its fame during Desert Storm in 1991, although Italian Tornadoes weren't all that succesfull. Here's an Italian Tornado IDS at the 1991 Le Bourget Salon. Dress code was 'Desert Camo' during that particular salon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The Tornado earned its fame during Desert Storm in early 1991, although Italian Tornadoes weren’t all that succesfull. Here’s an Italian Tornado IDS at the 1991 Le Bourget Salon. Dress code was ‘Desert Camo’ during that particular salon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado form Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Want more desert camo, but with a splash of colour? This Tornado from Saudi Arabia provides just that. Saudi Arabia bought 134 Tornadoes, of which 96 were of the IDS-version, seen here. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saudi Arabia also purchased the F3 fighter variant of the Tornado. Those aircraft are rarely - if ever - seen outside the kingdom. This is a an RAF Tornado F3 in 'max noise' mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Saudi Arabia also purchased the ADF fighter variant of the Tornado. Those aircraft are rarely – if ever – seen outside the kingdom. This is a an RAF Tornado F3 in ‘max noise’ mode. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F3 was also flown by the Italian Aeronautica Militare for some years, as a stop gap between the Lockheed F-104S-ASA and the Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F3 was also flown by the Italian Aeronautica Militare for some years, as a stop gap between the Lockheed F-104S-ASA and the Eurofighter Typhoon. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
More from Italy, this time in the shape of a Tornado IDS taking off from Ghedi airbase.(Image © Dennis Spronk)
More from Italy, this time in the shape of a Tornado IDS taking off from Ghedi airbase. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
We actually prefer the older colours on Italian Tornadoes. Just imagine the noise for now. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
We actually prefer the old colours on Italian Tornadoes. Just imagine the noise for now. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The RAF Tornadoes also looked better in green. This a GR1A recce Tornado flown by number 13 squadron. It is seen here at Boscombe Down in June 1992. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The RAF Tornadoes also looked better in green. This a GR1A recce Tornado was operated by number 13 squadron. It is seen here at Boscombe Down in June 1992. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stopping time! This German Tornado ECR uses reverse thrust to slow down at Lechfeld airbase in southern Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Stopping time! This German Tornado ECR uses reverse thrust to slow down at Lechfeld airbase in southern Germany. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A better look at the reverse thrust system on the Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A better look at the reverse thrust system on the Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Same ocassion, different Tornado. This one is carrying a recce pod. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
No stopping however for this Tornado. Wings fully back, low, fast and loud – as seen at Laage airbase in August 2006. It’s carrying a recce pod below the belly. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Maximum noise, one more time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Maximum noise, one more time. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
And again, we prefer older colours, such as on this German Marine Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
And again, we prefer older colours, such as on this German Marine Tornado. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

The Tornado first flew on 14 August 1974 from Manching airfield in Germany. A total of 992 aircraft were eventually built and a good number of those will continue to fly for years to come. But the highlight of its career is behind it.

Nice scenery, great aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Nice scenery, great aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest