German Defense Cuts Force Renegotiation with EADS

 - November 4, 2011, 4:55 AM
Germany is cutting half of its order for 80 Tiger helicopters in a defense review. (Photo: Chris Pocock)

Budget cuts to the German Armed Forces will force the renegotiation of contracts with two divisions of EADS for the A400M transport, and for NH90 and Tiger helicopters. Germany’s overall 20-percent reduction in defense spending includes the closure of one Tornado fighter-bomber wing, two Transall airlift wings, one transport helicopter regiment, one combat helicopter wing and a naval aviation unit.

The German Air Force now requires only 40 A400Ms. It had already reduced the originally planned buy of 60 to 53 during the difficult multinational renegotiation of 2009 to 2010 with Airbus Military.

The required number of Eurocopter Tiger UHT combat helicopters now has been halved to 40. Germany previously ordered 80 Tigers, and deliveries began in April 2005. The number of NH90 transport helicopters is also being cut by 40. Germany ordered 80 NH90s in 2000, and a further 42 in June 2007.

Minister of Defense Thomas de Maiziere admitted that compensation would be payable to industry, and expressed the hope that negotiations would result in a mutually acceptable solution. He did confirm the German Navy’s requirement for 30 helicopters to replace Sea Kings and Lynxs. Eurocopter/NH Industries has proposed the naval version of the NH90.

The defense review has also confirmed that Germany will not buy any more Eurofighters. It previously ordered a total of 143 aircraft, including 31 in Tranche 3A in 2009. This decision ends any lingering hope that the four-nation consortium could gain a Tranche 3B order, since the UK has already capped its buy, and neither Italy nor Spain seem likely to proceed, given their economic circumstances.

Germany is also ending its commitment to the medium extended air defense system (Meads). It had a 25-percent share of this trinational surface-to-air missile development, with LFK as the industrial partner. The U.S. already signalled its reluctance to continue, to the frustration of prime contractor Lockheed Martin. Italy is the third partner.