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Cost errors at Defense Ministry?

July 25, 2015

Germany's Defense Ministry miscalculated its planned outlay for two of Europe's new weapon systems to the extent of 1 billion euros, according to "Der Spiegel" magazine. The ministry denies that errors occurred.

Eurofighter Typhoon with Meteor
Image: Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH

The German news magazine reported Saturday that ministry data rechecks had shown a cheaper than expected cost overrun for the Puma infantry tank and hardly any anticipated savings for the new Meteor air-to-air missile.

A ministry spokesman promptly denied "computing chaos," telling the German news agency DPA that the ministry had neither made mistakes nor had costs changed.

Spiegel claimed the ministry had discovered erroneous costs blamed on outdated data when sent a query by Gesine Lötzsch of the Left. Her party, alongside the pacifist Greens, form the opposition in Germany's federal Bundestag parliament.

Instead of saving 1.2 billion euros on the Meteor missile project, Germany had achieved merely 11 million euros in savings. The Puma overrun had fallen from 2.3 billion to 1.3 billion, Spiegel claimed.

Ukraine crisis prompts rethink

Worsening relations with Russia, especially over Ukraine, prompted NATO allies, including Germany, over the past year to rethink their assumption that they could scrap weaponry thought obsolete after the end of the Cold War.

Last month, retiring German army inspector General Bruno Kasdorf highlighted Bundeswher equipment deficiencies, saying orders should be placed urgently with armaments manufacturers, given time lags between developing and certifying weapons and their delivery.

In May, Kasdorf called for 20 billion euros in investments in the Bundeswehr through to 2025, saying -- as an example -- that the army needed 100 extra Puma infantry tanks for transporting troops.

The Bundeswehr last month took its first deliveries of the Puma on a test range at Lüneberg, east of Hannover.

External experts were brought in, when Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen took office in 2013. Their subsequent report mercilessly listed shortfalls in equipment and budgeting.

Computerized weaponry

Symbolbild Waffenumsätze steigen Panzer Rüstungskonzerne Waffen
A German Puma infantry tankImage: picture alliance / dpa

The 31-ton tank, designed to carry nine soldiers at speeds of up to 70 kilometers an hour (44 miles per hour) and fitted with computerized weapons, is produced by a German consortium, Rheinmetall and Kraus-Maffei Wegmann.

The consortium for the Meteor air-to-air missile, which was first test-fired from a Eurofighter jet over Wales in 2012, comprises armaments firms in France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Sweden and Spain.

The Meteor, powered by a so-called ramjet, is reputed to have speeds of more than Mach four (4,900 kilometers per hour), a range of about 100 kilometers, and electronic remote controls enabling the crew of the fighter plane or a much larger AWACs surveillance aircraft to hit targets far beyond sight.

It is regarded as a successor to the AIM-120 missile long supplied by the US manufacturer Raytheon.

ipj/bw (dpa, Reuters)