Only 30% of Germany’s Leopard 2 tanks are combat ready, €100 billion insufficient

Operational readiness of certain military components, such as its artillery, "continues to erode".

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The chairman of the German Armed Forces Association, Colonel Andre Wustner, disclosed that only 30 per cent of all of the Leopard 2 tanks in the Bundeswehr are currently ready for battle.

In an interview with Bild am Sonntag on February 26, he revealed that just 30 per cent of the roughly 300 Leopard tanks available to the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces – ed.) are currently in a state of preparedness for battle.

Wüstner observed that the German military would need to order new Leopard 2 tanks to replace the 18 tanks that Berlin has agreed to donate to Ukraine. In the same breath, he responded negatively to whether the Bundeswehr was ready for battle.

He stated that further gaps have emerged due to the assistance provided to Ukraine. In this regard, he expressed reservations about whether Germany will be able to meet its duties to NATO from 2025 onward.

€100 billion is not enough

Germany would have to spend more money on its armed forces if it wants them fully equipped, army chief Lieutenant General Alfons Mais said on Sunday.

He told the German news agency dpa that the €100 billion ($107 billion) that Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised after Russia invaded Ukraine to speed up the modernisation of the military forces was not enough.

Last year, Mais made a stir when he attacked what he regarded as years of negligence in the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr. He claimed then that the army he was obligated to lead was more or less bare.

Mais claimed one year on; he was attempting to resist using the term “bare.”

Mais indicated that he is aware of significant pressure to move forward with replenishments at the quickest possible pace.

Mais emphasised that material growth towards full equipment was vital and that this was in addition to replacing equipment that had been donated to Ukraine. But, he cautioned that more than the special fund alone would be needed to accomplish this goal.

During his interview with Bild am Sonntag, Colonel Andre Wüstner expressed similar sentiments to those the general had expressed.

Based on what he said in the weekly paper aimed at the mass market, there has yet to be any discernible improvement for the soldiers since Scholz made the declaration a year ago.

During this parliamentary period, more speed is required, whether regarding material, personnel, or infrastructure; a true turnaround that can be felt in the troops is required, said Wüstner.

Wüstner went on to say that the German military is completing the missions it has been given but that this contribution to NATO is nothing compared to what Germany will have to provide in the future.

Because none of the military gear delivered to Ukraine had been replaced, he issued a warning that the operational readiness of certain military components, such as its artillery, “continues to erode.”

Politicians explain

In the wake of Russia’s comprehensive invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Scholz made an announcement on a “turning point” that would result in the delivery of weapons to a country already engaged in conflict as well as a significant rise in the amount of money Germany spends on its military.

Bundeswehr commanders have protested for many years that Germany has been ignoring its capabilities to protect its country and its NATO alliance members.

According to a statement released on Wednesday by the Defense Ministry’s Spokesman Arne Collatz, about €30 billion has been committed to contracts for specific projects since the announcement of the €100 billion special fund for the Bundeswehr.

During a parliamentary debate earlier this month, opposition leader Friedrich Merz of the Christian Democratic Union, which had previously been in power for 16 years before the Scholz government, voiced his displeasure with the current administration over the fact that “Large chunks of the so-called “turning point” as described on February 27 of last year are largely happening on paper at this point.

That, according to Merz, is not acceptable. “There were “Almost no orders” had been placed at this point, especially for ammunition, he said.

On the other hand, Boris Pistorius, the new defence minister of Germany, has committed to expediting the acquisition of weaponry and increasing the availability of ammunition.

In a speech to the Munich Security Conference last weekend, Scholz once again promised to push Germany’s defence spending up to 2% of GDP “permanently.”

But his defence minister wants to go even further. Claiming the country will accomplish the 2% target, but it will also make every effort to go above that, Pistorius told the same conference.



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