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Germany: What does the Solz decision on the F-35 weapons program mean for Berlin’s priorities?

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The acquisition of American F-35 fighter jets, transport helicopters and thousands of recruits are among the priorities of the German armed forces after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Twelve F-35 fighter jets flew to the US base at Sprndalem, in the German state of Rhineland. Its mission is to monitor the airspace of Eastern Europe, after the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine. They are considered the most modern combat aircraft in the world. For many years it was an “elusive dream” for the German armed forces looking for a cheaper solution to replace the now obsolete Tornado aircraft. All this until last Sunday, when Foreign Minister Olaf Soltz surprised friends and political opponents with his announcement of a “special fund” of 100 billion. for the sole purpose of modernizing the German armed forces.

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Under these circumstances, the Germans are very likely to invest in the latest-generation American F-35s, reports DW. After all, the chancellor himself clarified that “the F-35 is being examined by the German armed forces.” It was an unexpected statement, considering that in the previous government of Angela Merkel – with Vice Chancellor Olaf Solz – the big weapons programs did not go ahead. “From time to time, the experts decided to reconsider and discuss the programs from the beginning,” said Claudia Major, a fellow at the German Institute for Science and Policy based in Germany. The novelty of the “special fund” of 100,000 million euros consists precisely in the fact that for the first time “a long-term financing framework is being formed for the execution of strategic investments in the field of defence”, highlights Claudia Major.

Plans for the “European fighter plane” are maintained

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Strategic investments include the acquisition of F-35s from the US, which are sure to absorb a generous double-digit billion, and the development of a new European combat aircraft (FCAS), which France and Germany are planning together. The purchase of new transport helicopters, as well as the modernization of US Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, is also an immediate priority for the Bundeswehr, the German army. Olaf Solz characteristically states that “we need airplanes that can fly, ships that command the sea, and soldiers, men and women, who have the ideal equipment to accomplish their mission.”

This does not seem to be the case today. During a recent visit to German troops stationed in Lithuania, the government’s armed forces commissioner, Eva Hoagl, was surprised to discover that many times the soldiers did not even have the necessary jackets, windbreakers or to face arctic frost. “How can such a shortage occur in one of the richest countries in the world?” wonders Eva Hoeagle.

money alone is not enough

The special fund of 100 billion euros will surely provide solutions. After all, even Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who in recent months has warned that all public spending in Germany must be reconsidered if the country is to meet the constitutionally guaranteed “debt brake” of 2023, is clear. “Our goal, and my goal, is to have, within a decade, one of the strongest and best-equipped armies in Europe,” the finance minister and chairman of the Liberal Party (FDP) said in a recent speech. . An army that responds to Germany’s position and our responsibility for Europe.”

But money alone is not enough. In addition, experts warn, you should pay attention to the defense industry lobby, which undoubtedly hopes to increase its turnover. For this reason, he points out, the Christian Democrat (CDU) MP and weapons expert Roderick Kizeveter does not need “quick decisions”. “He worries me that we start throwing money away without prioritizing and not including any spending in broader strategic planning.”

Some propose the resumption of compulsory military service, which was abolished by Angela Merkel.

Kizevetter disagrees, noting that “the Bundeswehr no longer has the capacity to provide so many lottery winners with housing.” “If we wanted to bring back the necessary facilities, then 100 billion would disappear very quickly, without substantially strengthening the military.” Everything indicates that the Bundeswehr will invest in professional hoplites and highly qualified executives. According to initial information, at least 20,000 new hires are planned, which will increase the human resource to 203,000 people.

source: iefi merida

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