The Weekly Wire: Week of 8/17/15
The German military plans to invest up to €6 billion ($6.5 billion) in the next eight years to fix recurring problems with its aircraft, helicopters and other military equipment. This announcement comes on the heels of criticism raised in the last two years that the German military –particularly its air capability—is not operationally ready for the missions it has set itself. Especially noteworthy was the MoD-commissioned report that determined that only four of the Bundeswehr’s 39 NH90 helicopters are currently useable. Any additional resources will likely go to resolving technical issues that have hampered the effectiveness of new German platforms, such as the NH90 transport helicopter, from the start. These issues arose for many reasons, including industry delays and cost over-runs. The announced funding increase should therefore be seen as money that was needed to get the Bundeswehr to where it wants to be, rather than an expansion of capabilities.
From a budgetary perspective, Analytics believes that a funding increase of the stated size – €6 billion over 7-8 years – will demand reductions in other accounts and programs. Despite the recently announced increase of €1.4 billion to the total defense budget, other announcements indicate that the budget will only grow by €500 million through 2019. With the majority of procurement funding tied up in existing marquee programs – not including the recent expensive addition of the MEADS missile defense system – a €6 billion commitment will most likely require further budget increases or force a reduction in operational effectiveness elsewhere.
Despite conducting airstrikes against both ISIL and the PKK, Turkey’s Air Force is still finding time to upgrade some of its existing F-16s. 25 of Turkey’s 270 F-16s will receive airframe improvements under a modernization plan announced this week. This is part of Turkey’s ongoing attempts to modernize its F-16 fleet while it works on developing its own indigenous fighter aircraft. Originally hoped to be produced in 2020, it is now likely that any indigenous fighter aircraft production will be significantly delayed, and Turkey’s F-16s will need to continue operations well into the 2030s. However, while progress on the “F-X” has been slow, earlier this summer Turkey issues a request for information from foreign manufacturers to partner with Turkish firms in developing a new aircraft. Even with this information, Avascent Analytics does not forecast any aircraft being delivered prior to 2025, meaning that Turkey’s F-16s will continue to require modifications and sustainment in the near-term.