Europe

Germany's defence projects facing multiple risks - report

Ursula von der Leyen visiting Afghanistan in July 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Germany has played a major role in the Nato-led coalition in Afghanistan

Spending on nine of Germany's biggest defence projects has been severely criticised by an independent report that cites 140 problems and risks.

The revelations, handed to Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, emerged after a series of recent mishaps.

The minister has pledged that Germany will play a much greater military role on the international stage.

However the KPMG report calls for urgent improvement in projects such as the Eurofighter jet and Puma tank.

Contracts for A400 Airbus transporter planes and Boxer armoured fighting vehicles were among the nine delayed and, in many cases, over-budget projects that ran to a total of 57bn euros (£45bn; $70bn) - about two-thirds of total spending.

For some projects the additional spending stretches into billions of euros, German media report.

Germany is reported to be considering a key ceasefire monitoring role in eastern Ukraine, but the military has struggled in recent weeks with many of its helicopters and fighter jets unfit to fly, and notably a failed mission to send two planes to Iraq.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The German defence minister said the report provided a good basis to work from

BBC Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill on Germany's defence woes

In Germany they've been dubbed the "Disarmed Forces". For Europe's largest economy today's report is embarrassing but not unexpected.

A few days ago Ursula von der Leyen told me Germany had to play its part in places such as Ukraine and Syria if it was to be taken seriously in the future.

The trouble is the military she has inherited is badly flawed. And the public knows it.

Last week, two planes set off for Iraq carrying German weapons and army instructors. Neither made it. The weapons got stuck in Germany, the soldiers in Bulgaria.

In fact the only plane seemingly in good working order was the one carrying the defence minister, who arrived in Iraq for what should have been a carefully orchestrated press opportunity.

The defence minister has been forced to admit Germany's military equipment is in such poor repair that the country cannot meet its Nato obligations.

The 1,200-page report warned that "improvement in the management of national and international projects is urgent and needed without delay".

Ms von der Leyen said it provided a good basis from which to look at "the weak points and the need for action, which surely will be a tough management task for weeks and months to come".

Not to be deterred, she announced on German TV on Sunday that she was planning to revive a project, mothballed by her predecessor because of its cost, for Euro Hawk reconnaissance drones.

For historical reasons, Germany has been wary of playing a major part in international military missions but has played a significant role in Afghanistan and is planning to maintain a presence there after the Nato-led force pulls out at the end of 2014.

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