This is not our first, but hopefully our last report on the deplorable state of the German Armed Forces. Quite likely great reading material for the military headquarters in Moscow, one can only feel sorry for the many German military pilots, who can jump higher themselves then many of their planes can fly.
According to new confidential information made public by German media on 3 May 2018, the Luftwaffe has only a terrifying low number of 4 Eurofighter EF2000s ready to what they have been bought for: to go into combat when needed. True, another 6 are said to be airworthy too, but without the weapons they need to do their job. The aging Tornadoes the EF2000s are to replace are doing better, but with only 16 of the 80 or so Panavia planes ready for take-off one rather wants to cry than to be happy.
In short, Germany is unable to defend itself and to give its promised contribution to NATO if needed. To the military alliance Berlin has promised to have 60 to 82 EF2000s ready at all times, assets that will be very much needed if it ever comes to war in the Baltics. Right now, “mighty” Germany seems to have to rely on neighbour Poland and wish for the best.
German military helicopter readiness
Taking a look at the helicopter fleet the reports are quite pessimistic too, with 13 of the 58 new NH90s transport and assault and 12 of the 52 Tiger attack helicopters available. Increasing helicopter numbers are very much needed, since only 95 of the 244 Leopard main battle tanks of the army can be deployed.
Faults in money allocation, mismanagement in spare parts deliveries and an overall way to low budget for its needs, Germany is faced with the worst defence crisis in its history. With not much more cash coming in in the foreseeable future, the matters are about to only get worse. If the trend continues soon there will be nothing left to fly in the skies over Europe’s strongest economic power.
Poland’s hesitation when it concerns miltary helicopters must drive manufacturers out of their minds, and Airbus Helicopters especially. The company saw a 3 billion USD deal for H225M Caracal choppers fall through earlier this year and now wants Poland to select the Tiger as its new attack helicopter. Best cards are for the AH-64 Apache and AH-1Z Viper, however.
Airbus Helicopters is ‘laying the groundwork’ for future Tiger production in Poland in the same way it has been doing with the Caracal, says a statement released on Thursday 28 April. The European company taps into the fact that disagreements over off sets eventually caused the Caracal to largely collapse.
Poland doesn’t seem to have much eye for the Airbus Helicopter offer and mostly looks at the AH-64 Apache or AH-1Z Viper as its new attack helo. The former would be locally built by PZL Swidnik, while the latter could be produced by PZL Mielec.
Warsaw has a history troublesome history when it comes to selecting helicopters, however. A long process led to the selection of the Caracal as the country’s new combat search and rescue (CSAR) platform… until it was decided to look at other contenders once again.
Meanwhile, classic Mi-8 Hip transport helicopters soldier on and ageing Mi-24 Hind helicopters keep fulfilling the attack role.
The struggle could be associated with the fact that Poland also modestly produces helicopters on its own. PZL Swidnik furthermore is tied to AgustaWestLan, while PZL Mielec is involved with Sikorysky.
The Tigers are go again! For the next two weeks, Konya airbase in Turkey is home to NATO’s Tiger Meet. However, this year’s gathering of tigers is noticably smaller than previous gatherings, with real-world events and other exercises taking their toll on the exercise.
Hosting the Tiger Meet is the Turkish Air Force’s 192 Filo, which nicely painted up at least two of their F-16s in tiger colours. Also taking part are F-16s from Poland, F/A-18 Hornets from Switzerland, Dassault Rafales from France, plus AB-212 choppers from Italy.
Een foto die is geplaatst door Alperen Taşkın (@bitingwolf141) op
Cancellations Many NATO tiger units had to cancel their participation over deployments elsewhere. Dutch and Belgian F-16s currently see use in anger over Iraq, while Norwegian F-16s have just started Quick Reaction Alert duties over the Baltic states. Furthermore, Norway is busy preparing for large scale exercise Arctic Challenge, a joint Scandinavian training exercise starting 25 May. Also absent in Konya are Saab Gripens operated by the Czech Republic and Hungary. They prefer next week’s Lion Effort 2015 exercise at Čáslav in the Czech Republic over the Tiger Meet. Nevertheless, the Tigers will roar over Turkey for the next two weeks. The Tiger Meet is scheduled to end on 15 May. Click here for an impression of last year’s Tiger Meet. See more Tiger stuff here.
The Swiss Air Force is retiring ten out of 36 operational F-5 Tigers due to structural cracks found in the aicraft. As reported earlier here on Airheadsfly.com, cracks where found last year in some Tigers. Inspections on all aircraft have now finished and problems were found on 16 in total. Six will be repaired, ten will be disposed of.
Repair costs for the six savable aircraft are estimated at 1 million Swiss francs, which roughly equals 1 million euro. Among these six are five aircraft used by aerial demonstration team Patrouille Suisse.
The Swiss will see their active F-5 Tiger fleet reduced from 36 to 26 by this decision, made possible by fleet optimization and leading to cost savings. Between 1978 and 1984, the Swiss Air Force ordered a total of 98 single-seat F-5E and 12 two-seat F-5F aircraft. A significant number was since sold the US Navy, which has been using the Tigers as aggressor aircraft. A total of 54 F-5 is still being kept in Switzerland, with some being stored.
Assessment of the Swiss fleet carried out together with RUAG and Armasuisse. Repairs are expected to last until the end of the first quarter of 2016. Patrouille Suisse will partly use regular F-5s until all of their red and white aircraft are repaired.
The decision confirms that the Swiss will use their F-5s also from 2016 on. Earlier reports indicated that all Tigers would be retired in that year, but parliament in Bern decided otherwise.
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.
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.
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.