By Max Biederbeck-Kettterer, Rüdiger Kiani-Kreß
According to Wirtschaftwoche, the German arms industry risks being left out of business. The Bundeswehr was incapacitated and rushed to buy weapons from the United States.
Thus, the German military-industrial complex can only count on crumbs from someone else’s table and demand that the Americans share technologies.
In an unusually harsh tone, the German arms industry demands shares in the planned programs for purchasing weapons in the United States.
Industrialists were worried about both the autonomy of Germany and their own business.
In relation to its main client, the German federal government, German defense enterprises behaved in a new way this week.
Instead of resolving conflicts as usual – quietly, behind the scenes – today, the industry prefers publicly talking about its troubles.
“The government coalition and Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht do not have the necessary experience in dealing with international concerns,” said Wolfgang Schoder, Chairman of the Strategic Board and Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters, during one of the webinars of the Federal Association of the German Aviation and Space Industry.
Gerardo Walle, a shareholder representative in the aviation sector of the Nuremberg-based Diehl family concern, said the government risked losing “important key technologies” with its arms purchases.
Accordingly, the German state’s sovereignty in armaments will be reduced.
“In the Army, such an appearance is seen as a good catch-up against opponents of ‘German autonomy’ in armaments,” a well-known defense industry executive said of Valle’s words.
The unusually undiplomatic attacks of the Association of Defense Workers, which always behaves correctly, were not an accident but a clearly formulated expression of the growing nervousness of entrepreneurs.
On Thursday, a key decision will be made in the Bundestag’s budget committee on how the Bundeswehr will spend its money next year and, above all, a notable German fund to re-equip the Bundeswehr for 100 billion euros.
At this closed meeting, the defense budget for 2023 will be more or less finally determined.
This will lay the groundwork for the foundation’s first and probably largest projects, such as the purchase of fighter jets and possibly military transport helicopters in the United States.
True, the finished plan will have to be approved by the parliament. But this is usually a pure formality.
According to entrepreneurs, the committee should approve the allocation of specific amounts and instruct the government to link procurement with clearly formulated response obligations on the part of suppliers.
Otherwise, according to representatives of companies – from the international concern Airbus to the medium-sized company Welt, which produces protective systems – the German military industry risks being left behind.
The problem is that Defense Minister Christina Lambrecht, having set a goal to make the Bundeswehr combat-ready as soon as possible, brought to a disastrous state by austerity measures from the Grand Coalition of the CDU / SPD, intends to purchase “finished products that can be delivered as soon as possible.”
And these are mainly weapons from the United States.
This includes the new F-35 stealth bomber from Lockheed Martin, the P8A Poseidon submarine fighter, and the new Chinook heavy transport helicopter (Boeing manufactures the second and third machines).
From the point of view of the managers of the German military industry, German politicians “keen on gun shopping in the United States” did not think through all the details and consequences of such actions.
“Other countries link such purchases from foreign companies with specific conditions, for example, the production of some blocks in their own country or the ability to bring foreign weapons in line with their own needs,” one of the managers of the military industry complains about their own politicians.
“We’re just going to send a suitcase of money to the U.S. This is the wrong plan of our politicians.”
This could have fatal consequences comparable to dependence on Russia for energy and raw materials or Chinese semiconductors.
“Taking care of Germany’s sovereignty, we must do everything to avoid becoming dependent on the Americans for the next 30-50 years,” warns Martin Kroell, managing shareholder of Autoflug, a well-known manufacturer of seats for tanks and aircraft catapults.
According to him, the budget committee can prevent such a fall into American bondage.
So far, purchases in the United States are hitting local producers with double force.
Firstly, they deprive them of almost 12 billion euros, which will be spent on purchasing the three types of aircraft mentioned above in the United States.
But even more, German arms manufacturers are concerned that, according to preliminary trade agreements, they will remain with nothing in the coming years.
Suppose we proceed from the entire life cycle of these types of weapons, then the training of teams, maintenance, the supply of spare parts, and technical modernization. In that case, all this will bring suppliers much more money than the initial equipment sale.
“Based on a life cycle of 40 years, these costs will account for 70 percent of all costs,” says Airbus manager Schoder.
Thus, Germany’s total expenditures on the F-35, Chinook, and P8 can amount to more than 50 billion euros, albeit stretched in time.
However, there are advantages to procurement in the United States.
The main benefit of such services is that German gunsmiths will master all their technical achievements in maintaining these American weapons.
German gunsmiths would thus be able to retain most of their specialists, who otherwise, due to a lack of orders, would have to be used in other jobs or even fired.
They will get an idea of how, for example, the more modern American F-35 fighter functions compared to the Eurofighter.
Both are crucial for constructing a new European combat aviation system, FCAS.
According to Diehl manager Valle, the fact that the Europeans helped service the American Starfighter and F-4 Phantom fighters contributed to Europe’s efforts in producing Tornado and Eurofighter combat aircraft.
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