Germany received its 36th A400M, but the transporter still has problems to solve

BERLIN, (BM) – The Luftwaffe received its 36th Airbus A400M in Wunstorf at the beginning of December, learned citing FlugRevue. With a total of 53 copies ordered, Germany’s armed forces are the largest users of the turboprop transporter. Airbus sees itself on course – and still has big plans for the A400M.

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His bad reputation is no coincidence. Breakdowns, defects, and delays characterized the early years of the new A400M military transporter. Most recently, the successor to Transall made headlines with the Luftwaffe at the end of 2019 when the Bundeswehr initially refused to accept two newly built specimens due to loose screws – also because, according to the Luftwaffe, the two aircraft did not meet the “contractually guaranteed properties.”

Much has happened since that incident. The aircraft has long been in service with Lufttransportgeschwader 62 in Wunstorf – together with three other A400Ms. The Air Force received the last aircraft for this year on December 4th in the 54 + 36. As a result, 36 A400Ms are now stationing in Wunstorf. Germany has ordered a total of 53 A400Ms, 40 of them plan to be in Wunstorf. The remaining 13 are stationing on the Lechfeld near Augsburg as part of the new international air transport association MNAU [Multinational Air Transport Unit].

Ioannis Papachristofilou, responsible for sales of the A400M in Europe and Canada at Airbus Defense & Space, sees the former problem child on the right course: “It was a solid year for the A400M”, is his conclusion. The aircraft has matured further in 2020, got rid of teething problems, and expanded its capabilities. The ease of maintenance has also improved. “That does not go unnoticed on the market,” emphasized Papachristofilou and emphasized that the A400M would meet with interest from many potential customers. Although the Airbus man avoided going into more detail at this point, he made it clear: “The A400M is right at the top of the agenda in our worldwide sales efforts.”

The A400M fleet in service has already completed more than 85,000 flight hours, according to Papachristofilou. To date, Airbus has delivered a total of 95 A400Ms to customers. There are now seven of them with Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia, and Luxembourg – and Belgium will shortly be the eighth nation to join the group of A400M users. The kingdom has ordered seven A400Ms. Airbus would like to hand over the first before the end of the year.

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

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

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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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