Arms embargo on Saudi Arabia bankrupt a German UAV producer

BERLIN, (BM) – EMT, a producer of unmanned systems used by the Bundeswehr, has entered bankruptcy proceedings. The reason is the embargo announced by the federal government on the sale of drones to Saudi Arabia, which was one of its clients, learned citing Defence24.

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According to the Weilheim court decision, EMT has entered bankruptcy proceedings as of 4 December. The bankruptcy estate management has been entrusted to the debtor under the court administrator’s supervision [Eigenverwaltung]. The reason is the loss of financial liquidity due to the embargo imposed on “one of the clients.”

The media (including Augen Geradeaus) write that it is about Saudi Arabia. Previously, it used the LUNA tactical drones produced by EMT. At least one of them has downed over Yemen, which was confirmed by photographic documentation.

In an official statement, EMT, which employs 210 people and has been producing unmanned systems for about 40 years, claims that the bankruptcy proceedings enable its restructuring and operations continuation. However, there are doubts as to whether it will be able to fulfill orders from other customers.

This situation, in turn, may affect the Bundeswehr’s modernization plans. Today, in the German army, they serve, among others, Aladin and LUNA machines manufactured by EMT. The latter, along with the KzO system, was replaced by the newer LUNA NG sets. EMT concluded the contract for the first three sets in 2017, and another client orders nine more in 2019.

However, the implementation of these contracts is delaying. According to Augen Geradeaus, this may threaten Germany’s preparation of the assumed capabilities for the NATO immediate response force set – the so-called spearhead [VJTF] for 2023. LUNA NG sets are planning to be used, among others, in brigade reconnaissance battalions and artillery squadrons, where older drones are currently in service.

The situation in which the EMT company found itself shows that limiting the activities of defense companies in various markets and “humanitarian” reasons may harm the security of supplies also for the own army. The modernization programs’ future may depend on whether Germany will maintain unmanned aerial vehicles’ production and modernization capacity.

Germany is investing in the Luftwaffe. Billions of euros for new fighter jets

The budget committee of the German parliament has agreed to spend up to 5.5 billion euros to acquire a party of 38 new Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, as we reported on November 6.

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As Europaeische Sichercheit und Technik writes, the application covers 26 single-seater and 7 combat training machines as part of the basic order, five more standard Eurofighters can be purchased as an option. In total, probably along with the operation support package and equipment [including AESA radars], the purchase of fighters under the Kwadryga project is to cost the German taxpayer up to EUR 5.5 billion.

The approval of the public expenditure committee, required by German law for any contract with a value exceeding EUR 25 million, means that the contract can be concluded by the Ministry of Defense. Its signing will therefore be a big step towards modernizing the tactical aviation of the forces of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Paradoxically, however, Germany’s needs are much wider, and the purchase of a new party of Eurofighters is an easier [for political reasons] part of the defense ministry’s plans. In addition to 33-38 fighters, replacing the Eurofighter Tranche 1 considered not very prospective [unlike the Tranche 2 and 3 fighters, they will not be modernized through the installation of AESA radars], Berlin has to acquire successors for the aging Tornado machines, acting as important role in the NATO Nuclear Sharing system.

In the first half of the year, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced that the aging Tornadoes, still playing an important role in the Luftwaffe, would be partially replaced by American machines [30 F / A-18 Super Hornets and 15 E / A-18G Growlers], and partly by another batch of around 50 Eurofighters. The former would take over from Tornadoes the mission in the Nuclear Sharing system, as well as the tasks of breaking air defense performed today by the ECR version machines, while the latter would replace the standard IDS Tornadoes in conventional operations.

These plans, although in fact a compromise, caused considerable opposition on the German political scene. While the head of the Ministry of Defense, who belongs to the CDU party, is a strong supporter of transatlantic cooperation and participation in the Nuclear Sharing program, which she tries to emphasize on every occasion (she also spoke about it on the eve of the presidential elections in the USA), this cannot be said about the Social Democratic SPD party co-ruling with the CDU / CSU, nor about the Greens, selected to be a coalition partner of the Christian Democrats after next year’s parliamentary elections.

While the purchase of fighter jets from its own industry without a “politically controversial” nuclear deterrent capability enjoys wide support in Germany, it is not known whether the defense ministry will succeed in implementing its plans to purchase new aircraft in the US. The agreement for the new Eurofighters, which has just been approved by the Bundestag, even after its signing, will be only the first step in the overall process of modernizing the German air force, necessary to maintain capabilities considered essential within NATO. On the other hand, it should be noted that the implementation of such large defense purchases by Germany, even during a pandemic, has a certain positive impact on the allied credibility of Berlin and proves the importance that its politicians attach to building capabilities within NATO.

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