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Report: German jets useless at night

January 19, 2016

A new report in the German media has claimed that the country's intelligence planes cannot be flown in the dark. It's the latest in a series of embarrassments for Germany's defense apparatus.

Image: Reuters/U. Bektas

German reconnaissance jets can't fly at night, the popular daily "Bild" reported on Tuesday. In a new humiliation for Germany's defense ministry, the six Tornado airplanes that had been touted as a much-needed German contribution to the fight against "Islamic State" terrorism are outfitted with lighting far too bright for pilots' eyes.

Germany's army, the Bundeswehr, has had to face numerous revelations of faulty or outdated equipment in recent months. Its G36 assault rifles are now being removed from circulation after it was reported that they had trouble firing at high temperatures, and "Der Spiegel" reignited the controversy when it published a report in its magazine that only four of the military's 39 H90 helicopters were in good enough condition to fly.

Responding to the Bild report, a spokesman for the defense ministry said there was indeed "a small technical problem that has to do with the cockpit lighting."

"It is possible that the night goggles worn by pilots result in reflections," he added, saying that the ministry was looking to solve the issue within the next two weeks, and that there was "currently no need to fly at night in Syria" anyway.

The six aircraft are meant to be capable of taking high-resolution pictures and infrared images at all times of day and even in inclement weather.

Beginning in 2016, Germany has been an active part of the US-led coalition against "IS" in a strictly information-gathering capacity. The mission came as a response to the November 13 terror attacks in Paris, but was condemned by the opposition Left Party who argued that innocent Syrian civilians were being killed by the coalition's airstrikes.

Ursula von der Leyen talks to DW

es/jlw (AFP, dpa)

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