BERLIN, (BM) – Germany will increase its defense budget by around 3 percent next year. However, Berlin continues to spend on military purchases well below the 2% NATO requirement. GDP annually, and the shape of further development of defense policy may be decided by next year’s parliamentary elections, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing a Defence24‘s report.
The budget committee of the German parliament has decided that in 2021 approximately EUR 46.93 billion will be allocated to national defense, which is – according to the Ministry of Defense – approximately EUR 1.3 billion more than this year. Investment expenditures account for EUR 12.2 billion, or about 26 percent. the entire amount.
This will allow financing of development projects, such as the Future Combat Air System – a sixth generation fighter developed with France, as well as the purchase of weapons, including multi-role MKS 180 ships, 4th tranche Eurofighter fighters or new NH-90 helicopters intended for frigates. The draft budget also includes funds for new cars and communication systems [including from the post-pandemic economic recovery package], as well as for the implementation of previously approved projects, such as the modernization of Leopard 2 tanks to the 2A7V standard.
Additional funds will also be allocated to current expenses, including those related to staff maintenance. It was assumed that there would be up to 179,000 in service. professional and contract soldiers [today there are 175.5 thousand of them, along with 8 thousand volunteers]. Thus, the size of the Bundeswehr will slowly increase. The draft budget has yet to be approved by both houses of the German parliament.
The estimated share of defense spending in GDP in 2020 will reach 1.57%. and should remain at a relatively similar level next year, taking into account the estimated growth of the national income at the level of 3.5%. [according to the data of the European Commission]. In 2019, this indicator was at the level of 1.36%. The increase in the share of defense expenditure in Germany’s GDP is the result, on the one hand, of a slow but consistent increase in them since 2014 [when they amounted to less than EUR 33 billion], and on the other – a decrease in the “base”, i.e. GDP, in 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic.
From the point of view of Germany’s defense capabilities, the year 2021 will be particularly important, because then parliamentary elections will be held, which will determine the shape of the government coalition. Angela Merkel’s CDU / CSU faction is in favor of much greater expenditure on the military, while the potential Christian Democrats’ coalition members – the Greens – are more skeptical, although both parties do not rule out support for a higher budget to a limited extent, as is the case with the SPD within the government coalition in the present parliamentary term. On the other hand, the liberals from the FDP, who may join a coalition with the CDU alongside one of the two parties mentioned above, and the far-right Alternative for Germany [AfD] are in favor of higher spending.
However, the most difficult projects to implement may turn out to be projects related to topics that are “controversial” for many German politicians, in particular the introduction of a successor to Tornado fighters capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The defense ministry recently recommended that their role – along with Eurofighters – also be played by American Super Hornets and Growlers, but their purchase will have to be approved by the Bundestag in the next term of office. A contract for the TLVS tactical air defense system, delayed by several years, is also waiting for parliamentary consent, although there are still chances that in this case the relevant agreement will be approved and signed before the Bundestag elections.
If, on the other hand, a left-wing coalition [SPD, Greens and Die Linke] is formed in Germany after next year’s elections, the process of increasing defense spending and restoring the Bundeswehr’s combat capabilities may be stopped. So for now, Germany is increasing its defense spending, and the results of the parliamentary elections will decide whether to continue this process.
Germany is investing in the Luftwaffe. Billions of euros for new fighter jets
As we reported on November 6 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 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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