Dhe Bundeswehr has encountered serious technical problems during exercises with Puma infantry fighting vehicles for the “spearhead” of NATO in the past two weeks. During training with 18 combat vehicles, operational readiness dropped to zero within a few days, the magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday. The problems did not occur with the Leopard 2 main battle tanks, which were also involved in the exercise. The magazine referred to a letter from the commander of the 10th Panzer Division, Major General Ruprecht von Butler, to the army leadership and the Ministry of Defence.
According to information from the German Press Agency, the maneuver took place at the armored force’s target practice center and the letter has caused a stir in the Ministry of Defense since Friday. Because the new breakdowns affect vehicles in a special configuration, with which the Butler subordinate Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 is supposed to participate in the VJTV (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force) of the alliance from the new year.
After reading the letter, the “Spiegel” reported a total failure with a view to the pumas. The last two armored personnel carriers that were still operational were also out of action “on yesterday’s shooting day after an hour and a half with turret defects,” the general wrote. In the case of the Leopard 2, on the other hand, the operational readiness was at “approx. 80 to 90 percent,” von Butler continues. “Damage could usually be remedied with priority overnight”.
Fully operational again in three months at the earliest
According to the report, the electronics of the high-tech tanks in particular are vulnerable, and there was even a serious cable fire in the driver’s compartment of one tank. The troops were already aware of the nature of the defects, the e-mail said, but they had “never occurred with this frequency before”. The systems were only moved on shooting ranges in the North German lowlands and were “not overused” there. According to the assessment of the foreman of the affected company, which he considers very credible, the General writes, it can be assumed that the company will only be fully operational again in three to four months.
The Puma infantry fighting vehicle, which was plagued by numerous technical problems, was only declared combat-ready last year. The combat vehicle developed and produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH (RLS) had previously made headlines as a “breakdown tank”.
The Bundeswehr meanwhile wants to do everything possible to quickly restore operational readiness after the series of breakdowns during shooting exercises with the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. Together with specialists from the armaments industry, there will be an immediate damage assessment, said the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr, Eberhard Zorn, the German Press Agency in Berlin. The procurement office BAAIN and the inspector of the army “will do everything possible to restore the clear state of the Puma,” said the general. And: “We will fulfill our commitment to NATO from January 1st.”