NATO identifies critical weak link

Andrey Kots

It seems that NATO has found a white crow. Several leading Western media immediately attacked the Bundeswehr with sharp criticism. They were accused of many sins: from insufficient assistance to Ukraine and ending with the inability to fight. About why Berlin becomes a burden for the allies – in the material of RIA Novosti.
Problem BMP
In Germany, as you know, there is a very powerful mechanical engineering – both civil and military. German cars and military equipment have been a model of quality for many years. However, the developers of the Rheinmetall concern clearly could not bring their latest brainchild to mind. The Puma infantry fighting vehicle entered service in 2015. About 350 units were produced for the needs of the army.
This BMP has become the heaviest and most expensive in the world. On paper, performance characteristics look impressive. Combat weight – 43 tons, frontal armor can withstand a 45-mm projectile, MUSS active protection complex, rapid-fire 30-mm automatic cannon, 1088 horsepower engine, highway speed – up to 70 kilometers per hour. Crew – three people, up to six fighters in the troop compartment. The modern fire control system impro-ves the accuracy of fire and improves interaction with other equipment of the unit.
Problems came to light when the cars entered the troops. They turned out to be very capricious, required increased attention from technical services, and suffered from dozens of “childhood illnesses”.
In recent exercises, for v-arious reasons, all 18 Puma infantry fighting vehicles involved failed. The most common causes are defects in the turret traverse mechanism, a “wedging” gun, and malfunctions in the electronics. A fire broke out in the driver’s cab of one of the cars. As a result, Berlin decided to temporarily abandon further purchases.
In January 2024, these 18 Puma infantry fighting vehicles were to be included in the NATO High Rea-diness Task Force (VJTF), the main multinational unit of the alliance, designed for emergency response to cris-es. However, after the failure, the Bundeswehr command decided to involve the Marder infantry fighting vehicles, which were put into service in 1970.
This is unlikely to please Washington and Brussels.
Lack of artillery
Another problem is the small stocks of cannon artillery. According to the German Ministry of Defense, published in The Times, out of 121 PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers of 155 mm caliber, two-thirds (about 80 units) are not suitable for military service. In addition, out of 14 self-propelled guns transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukra-ine, six have already been sent to Lithuania for repairs due to a lack of spare parts. European howitzers simply cannot withstand the pace of hostilities and quickly use up resources.
There are not enough special fuels and lubricants for the cold season. Soviet fuels and lubricants, which are still sufficient in Ukrainian warehouses, cannot be replaced. Taking into account the fact that real “mud baths” are now in the Donbass and the supply of the front is very difficult, Ukrainian artillerymen at some point risk being left without Western guns at all.
There are difficulties in the Bundeswehr with ammunition. The newspaper Die Welt calculated that the army would have enough shells for a maximum of several days of intense fighting. It will not be possible to quickly compensate: the defense industry is simply not designed for the mass production of 155 mm caliber.
The situation is aggravated by the shortage of raw materials. Germany imports cotton lint necessary for the production of shells from China, and in early Dece-mber, for unknown reasons, the PRC delayed sending the next batch. The Bund-eswehr admitted that lead times for this material have tripled in recent months.
Shortage of planes and people
The Spiegel publication claims that the armed forc-es are experiencing difficulties with almost all types of weapons and equipment. The combat readiness of the Ground Forces is estimated at 41 percent.
Earlier, the Air Force co-mmand informed the Min-ister of Defense that out of 77 multi-purpose NH-90 h-elicopters, only 44 are relatively serviceable, and only nine are in full combat rea-diness.
The situation is not much better with the Tiger attack helicopter. Of the 53 purchased vehicles, 36 are in the army, and 12 are in combat readiness. Moreo-ver, the use of the Tiger would be mandatory in any Bundeswehr operation abroad – after all, this is the main fire support helicopter.
Of the 93 Tornado bombers, 57 are in service and 20 are on alert. This is a long-obsolete model, but the German coalition government is still arguing about a successor. Thus, the SPD opposes the purchase of American aircraft.
“Tornado” refers to the third generation of jet aircraft, adopted in 1980. It is this machine that is the regular carrier of American nuclear bombs deployed in Germany.
The combat effectivenes-s is also seriously affected by the lack of qualified personnel, especially in aviat-ion, artillery and cyber un-its. The shortage of specialists in various types and br-anches of the German tro-ops reaches 21 thousand pe-ople. And it is not yet clear how Defense Minister Chri-stina Lambrecht is going to solve the accumulated problems. German industry is directly dependent on cheap energy supplied by Russia. By imposing sanctions on Moscow, Berlin did a disservice to its own army.