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Less Than 50% of German Tornados Can Even Get Off the Ground

Angela Merkel wants to intervene in Syria, yet a majority of one of Germany's main fighter jets are not ready for combat

This post first appeared on Russia Insider


Originally Appeared at Die Welt. Translated from the German by Werner Schrimpf


The German air force is starting its “war on terror,” but the equipment leave a lot to be desired. The steps taken to improve failures haven’t been efficient yet.

The German Army plans to send its Tornado combat aircraft into battle against IS terrorists but less than one in two are combat ready. According to the report from Germany’s ministry of defense on the condition of the air force's main weapons system, just 66 out of 93 acquired Tornado aircraft are operational and out of these 66 units just 29 aircraft are combat ready (representing 44 percent). That is even less compared to a similar test from the previous year. At that time, 38 fighter aircraft were ready for operations.

Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen  rejected doubts concerning operational readiness during an interview with the German state TV channel, “ARD.” We have 30 Tornado aircraft ready for combat but we just need 6 units for the scheduled reconnaissance flights. So there is much room to maneuver, stated von der Leyen in her somewhat odd calculation. This report is on Wednesday’s agenda of Germany’s parliamentary defense committee. Interestingly enough, it was scheduled just shortly before the first discussion in parliament about the planned mission of six reconnaissance Tornado fighter aircraft in Germany’s war on IS terror. This 81 page report comes to the conclusion that a lack of availability of various spare parts is to blame for the inoperativeness of the fighter aircraft.

The Tornado fighter aircraft are between 23 and 34 years old and are classified as end-of-range models and are, in effect, flying dinosaurs. Things do not look better for the successor model called “Eurofighter.”  Combat readiness has declined here from 57% to 55%. Out of the aging and damaged transport aircraft “Transall,” just 57% are operational, whereby the target is defined as being at least 70%.

1200 servicemen sent into war against IS

Last year we already could see an intense and long ongoing public discussion concerning the poor condition of Germany’s army equipment. “The status of Germany’s Air Force equipment remains unsatisfying” states Volker Wieker, the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr (note: German Army) in the current report. One-hundred seventeen measures and steps have been taken, and an amount of 5.6 billion euros has been budgeted for the next ten years in order to overcome this crisis.

According to what Wieker wrote in a paper already published in Germany’s national Sunday paper, Bild am Sonntag, “We do not expect any quick success.” Measures will become operative medium-term. “Nevertheless, we were able to stabilize the situation and turn around trends in main areas,” Wieker said.

On Wednesday (12/2), just one day after the decision of Germany’s parliamentary defense committee, the German parliament will discuss the mission of 1200 soldiers to support the air strikes against IS. In addition to the Tornado fighter aircraft, a tanker aircraft and a frigate will be utilized for the mission in Syria. The decision is expected to be made already on Friday (12/4) and a positive vote, plus the votes from coalition, is considered to be certain. Already next week the German government will deploy the aircraft to the U.S. base Incirlik in Turkey.

British Parliament will decide on Wednesday evening whether to participate in air strikes against IS in Syria. A positive outcome is certain. The British Air Force is already flying air raids in Iraq against the terrorist militias.

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