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Heer - German Army - Modernization

At the outset of the 21st Century debates over a more effective European security policy raised questions about the German contribution to a more robust European military capability. Declining military capabilities of the Bundeswehr served to undermine the credibility of Germany’s determination to act as a reliable partner of the transatlantic alliance. Specifically, the United States was increasingly dissatisfied that Germany had failed to take action and to contribute more to shared global security concerns.

The procurement and equipment concept (Material und Ausrüstungskonzept), published by the Chief of Staff in 2001, listed over 200 different programs to be modernized or expanded. The implementation period was planned from 2001 to 2013 and it was based on the Defense Capabilities Initiative concept, and its identified capability shortfalls.

The focus on light and deployable armored infantry vehicles reflected the intent to increase the survivability of rapid deployed first on the scene. From the introduction of the Puma IFV it was planned to take 410, but only 350 were to be procured. Germany took delivery of the first two production Puma IFVs in Kassel, Germany, in December 2010 for verification trials but it remained in low-rate production with about 20 vehicles completed by 2014. The Marder was to be systematically withdrawn from service. The Marder 1A5 was expected as of 2014 to stay in service beyond 2020.

The retention of heavy armored mechanized divisions still provides an indispensable flexibility for certain conflicts, which require decisive and overwhelming firepower on the ground. However, it remained to be seen on what scale the drop in defense matters reflected by the decline of the German defense budget impacts the budget devoted to procurement.

The army received 185 Krauss-Maffei Wegmann PzH 2000 155 mm/52 cal self-propelled (SP) artillery systems, the last of which arrived in 2002. The PzH 2000 were reduced to a frontline strength of only 89 units. The army's large fleet of European-built multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) is being reduced to just 38 units is to be reduced to just 38 units.

As part of the realignment of the Bundeswehr all ongoing defense projects were reviewed in 2011. Accordingly, various courses of action were developed in the Department of Defense. The overall objective was to adequately equip the Bundeswehr from the deployment and simultaneously to gain free space planning for future projects. The Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière approved on 14 October 2011 a plan that included both a change in the number of weapons to be procured as well as a reduction of the already deployed weapons systems.

The planned number of major weapon systems determine the structure of the Bundeswehr. So only 80 NH90 transport helicopter and 40 support helicopters Tigers were planned for the future. The larger CH-53G helicopters have been transferred to the Air Force. The troops would have 272 Boxer armored transport vehicles, 765 Fuchs armored transport vehicles and 212 fennec fox, so that there will be no cuts in this area.

All German Army air defence assets were transferred to the German Air Force, including the Rheinmetall Ozelot low-level air defence system [Wiesel 2 hull with the Stinger surface-to-air missile (SAM), and the MANTIS 35 mm counter rocket and mortar system. The German Army Roland SAM and Gepard twin 35 mm SP air defence systems were phased out of service without replacement.

The existing Leopard 2 battle tank would be reduced from 350 to 225. Plans called for a total of 225 Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBTs) in four tank battalions. hese Leopard 2A6s will be slowly replaced by the upgraded Leopard 2A7. Currently, the German Army had 125 Leopard 2A5 MBTs but of these 105 were being sold to the Polish Army, which already operates 128 former-German Army Leopard 2A4s.

The German military changed course, and planned to bring 100 mothballed tanks back into service amid speculation the move is in response to increased demands from the Ukraine crisis. Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said 10 April 2015 that the military would pay 22 million euros to buy back the Leopard 2 main battle tanks from the defense industry, which had kept them in storage.

The modernization of the Leopard 2 fleet was scheduled to start in 2017. “The ministry has decided to raise the upper limit for the future to 328," Flosdorff told a government news conference, confirming a report by German magazine Spiegel.

The decision to equip the Bundeswehr with a maximum 328 tanks nearly reverses a four-year-old decision to cut the total from 350 to 225. The announcement came as NATO attempted to increase the response time of its 5,000-strong rapid reaction force amid the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine.

By May 2016 the Bundeswehr was short of funds to buy an advanced tactical missile defense system and an additional number of Leopard-2 tanks. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had planned the purchase of 100 Leopard-2 tanks amid the military conflict in eastern Ukraine. The lack of funds put at risk the implementation of a number of other defense programs, including the creation of a so-called “cyber army.”

The German army will be strengthened with a sixth tank battalion in response to rising security concerns in Europe, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced on 06 December 2018. "With this, the German army will grow for the first time in decades," von der Leyen said at a military base near the western city of Münster. The formation of the 363rd Tank Battalion will begin in October 2019, with battalion staff and the first of four companies to be stationed at the Hardheim military base south of Frankfurt. A second company will become active in October 2021, followed by the transfer of another two companies to Hardheim from bases in the states of Bavaria and Thuringia. More than 100 Leopard 2 tanks are currently being upgraded, some of which will join the 363rd Panzer Battalion, von der Leyen said. The formation of the 500 soldier-strong battalion comes as Germany increases its defense spending in response to security threats from Russia and pressure from the United States to meet NATO defense budget targets.

The air rescue teams of the Bundeswehr search and rescue service can use their helicopter to provide air assistance in different types of emergency situation. The light support helicopter, which is based on the Airbus H145, gradually replaced the Bell UH-1D, transitioning from the UH-1D, which has a lot of analogue display instruments, to the H145 with a digital cockpit. The new helicopter is produced at Airbus Germany in Donauwörth. On 19 March 2021, the BAAINBw (Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr) took over the last of seven H145 helicopters ordered from the manufacturer in Donauwörth . In the presence of Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, on 12 April 2021 the last of the three SAR commands in Holzdorf (Saxony-Anhalt / Brandenburg) was converted to the new successor, replaced by the Airbus H145. The days of the Bell UH-1D, called "Huey", were numbered, because at the end of June 2021 its flight operations in the armed forces were finally discontinued. The Bell UH-1D served in the German Armed Forces for over half a century. The helicopter, known as the “carpet beater” because of its typical sound, was procured in large numbers during the Cold War. The Bundeswehr had a total of 340 copies in use. 204 went to the army, 136 were delivered to the air force.

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Page last modified: 25-10-2021 16:34:26 ZULU