Germany to Acquire New Naval Vessels Amidst Large Release of Defence Funding

In its session on 23 June, the Budget Committee of the German Parliament released funds for proposals with a total volume of around 19 billion euros. Notably, Germany will purchase two submarines, three intelligence vessels, two tankers and has approved additional funds for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and the Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV)

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In its last session before the summer recess, and therefore most likely its last session before the parliamentary election, the Budget Committee has approved funds for a total 27 proposals. In the meeting on the 23rd, the committee approved the release of the funds, most of which will not be due until the next few years. This will allow the German Ministry of Defence to conclude the corresponding contracts. Previously, the defence committee had also approved the projects. This decision was made possible above all because the federal cabinet had previously promised more money in the draft defence budget for the coming years.

Among the smaller projects are for example the acquisition of vehicles for special forces, modernisations for various seaborne systems, ammunition for self-propelled howitzers, an electronic warfare system for the NH90 helicopter and the procurement of parachutes. The session also released the funds for the acquisition of the five P-8A Poseidons, which the US-Government had approved for import in March, and for the Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System (PEGASUS). This electronic surveillance system is based around Bambardier’s Global 6000 and had been chosen instead of Northrop Grumman’s Triton drone, which had been an earlier plan. It will close the capability gap left by the retirement of Breguet Atlantiques in 2010. The resolution also includes funds totalling almost 1.9 billion euros for upgrading 150 Puma IFVs to the technical standard envisioned for the NATO spearhead VJTF (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force). For this project, the committee placed particular emphasis on proper financial and time management planning,

In regard to the funds for FCAS, totalling almost 4.5 Billion Euros, the MPs made extensive stipulations. The commission calls on the government to “take immediate measures to ensure that the FCAS and Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) projects run in parallel. […] to ensure that the partner states and their industries enter Phase 1B on a recognisable equal footing and that the project is immediately transferred to an international programme organisation for this purpose.”

Of particular note are the naval acquisitions: two 707 class tankers at a total of 914 million Euro, three class 424 Flottendienstboote (FDB424), intelligence vessels, at 2.1 Billion, two class 212 Common Design (U212CD) at 2.8 Billion and Naval Strike Missile (NSM) Block 1A missiles at 512 Million. The latter two are cooperation projects with Norway.

A total of six class U212CD submarines are being designed and built, jointly with the Norwegian Navy, who will receiver four of them at an overall price of 4,5 Billion Euro. They are based on the existing Class 212 A submarines, featuring diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion system using compressed hydrogen fuel cells, which are currently in service with the German and Italian Navy. The boats are constructed by Kiel based ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), who describes the boats as being ideally suited for undetected reconnaissance and surveillance.

The NSM is also a cooperation project with Norway and is to be used on class 124, 125 and 126 class frigates. Initially produced for the Norwegian Navy by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, the NSM is also in service with the Polish, Malaysian and US Navy. Along with Germany, the Canadian and Romanian are also looking to acquire the system. The missile has a range of over 100 nautical miles and can be used against both air and land targets.

With the funds released by the commission, the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) concluded a contract with Lürssen Werft GmbH & Co. KG also on 23 June 2021 for the design and construction of three Class 424 fleet service boats including a training and reference facility. The requirements for the surface and underwater reconnaissance components in worldwide operations in conjunction with specific military requirements such as self-protection, command and control capabilities and the need for extremely low-noise propulsion systems exemplify the high complexity of the project. To ensure the most economical procurement possible, the new boats are based on civilian shipbuilding standards. The main user of the fleet service boats is not the navy who merely operates them, but the Cyber and Information Domain Service (CIR), whose specialists from the Strategic Intelligence Command are responsible for the boats.

"We are pleased that, following the approval of the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag, the Federal Ministry of Defence has entrusted us with the responsibility of acting as general contractor for this important procurement project," said Tim Wagner, Managing Director of Lürssen Werft "We will now immediately enter the design phase and start talks with potential partners from the shipyard industry and systems engineering. With inter-shipyard cooperation, we want to combine the know-how and competencies at shipyard locations of the Lürssen Group with the capacities of other northern German shipyards in order to get the urgently needed new fleet service boats underway, integrating all necessary resources."

The first of the three boats is scheduled to enter service in 2027. The class 424 boats will be replacing the Oker, Alster and Oste class 423 fleet service boats, which have been in service for over 30 years.

By Kevin Klemann

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