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Bundeswehr | Germany Armed Forces

Jaeger

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The German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) signed a €220 million contract on August 23,2021, with Hensoldt Sensors GmbH for the manufacture, delivery and installation of four radar systems for the Sachsen-class frigates​

In addition, necessary training services as well as the production of supply readiness were agreed upon with the conclusion of the contract.


The new radars are TRS-4D/LR ROT wide-range air and sea surveillance radars, which will replace the SMART-L radars currently used on the three frigates from 2025. In addition, another system will be installed as early as 2023 at the Naval Technology School’s Parow Reference and Training Facility. In addition to hands-on training, this will allow any system modifications to be tested on the radar before it is fielded.


The three F124 class units were commissioned between 2004 and 2005. They are designed as multi-purpose escort and sea control frigates. All sensors and weapons on board are optimized for air defense. In addition, the F124 class frigates are the only ships in the German Armed Forces with anti-aircraft fighter capability.


With the TRS-4D/LR ROT, the ships will in future have one of the world’s most powerful and modern radars, which in addition to better reconnaissance and target tracking characteristics also have the capability to detect and track ballistic missiles. The radar’s AESA (Active Electronically Scanning Array) technology enables precise detection of particularly small and maneuverable objects at a range of more than 400 km for air targets and up to 2,000 km for objects in Earth orbit.
The conversion of the ships will begin in 2024 and is expected to be completed by 2028. The project management at BAAINBw has thus succeeded in selecting a powerful long-range radar capable of meeting the challenges of future air defense in the changed threat spectrum.
 

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Ships in Kiel for Kiel week
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Jaeger

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Germany is once again weighing its options for replacing the country’s aging Tornado aircraft fleet, which could put the F-35 back on the table.

The plan, first reported by German press agency DPA over the weekend, follows a pledge in the coalition government agreement late last year.

The review would re-open a recommendation made by then-Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in early 2019 for phasing out Germany’s nearly 90 Tornados by the end of the decade. It ditched an F-35 option, fearing purchasing that fighter jet would upset the Franco-German defense alliance with the Future Combat Air System at its core.

Officials instead favored buying a roughly equal number of Eurofighters and new-generation Boeing F-18s. The latter would fly electronic-attack missions and serve as a bomb carrier under Germany’s NATO nuclear-sharing commitments, the thinking went.

The German defense ministry on Monday declined to say whether the F-35 is now expressly back under consideration. Conversations between Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht and Chancellor Olaf Scholz about Tornado replacement options, reported by DPA as having happened last Thursday, are considered “internal,” a spokeswoman told Defense News.

Officials pointed to a Dec. 19 Lambrecht interview in the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, where she was quoted as favoring a “European” plane for the nuclear-sharing mission while at the same time leaving open the possibility that the requisite U.S. certifications may not happen in time, or at all.

“I will consider all options,” Lambrecht said.

Germany’s Tornado replacement debate is a recurring exercise for the country’s defense intelligentsia. For the nuclear mission, it is now believed Washington would likely only allow a U.S. aircraft, although even the degrees of atomic readiness among the F-35 and the F-18 are disputed.

Against that backdrop, the nuclear mission is controversial to begin with, treated as a necessary evil by the new government in the formulation of a defense and security agenda that also includes nonproliferation goals.

For the electronic-attack mission, the German defense industry, led by Airbus Defence and Space, had lobbied against an F-18 Growler choice ever since Von der Leyen’s recommendation, arguing the Eurofighter could be developed to at least a similar level of capability.

Meanwhile, introducing the F-35 back into the mix of German considerations, even the talk of it, could lead French officials to question Berlin’s commitment to the Future Combat Air System. That, in turn, risks not only toppling the sixth-generation aircraft program but the European Union’s defense-industrial ambitions as a whole.

The question is if FCAS could co-exist with a German F-35 acquisition, especially given that the DPA report suggests those planes would primarily work doomsday stand-by duty.

German industry should not be expected to actively support any U.S. aircraft in the Tornado-replacement decision, Reinhard Brandl, a member of the opposition Christian Social Union and the parliamentary defense committee, told Defense News in an interview. At the same time, he noted it’s primarily the electronic-attack portfolio that German companies are most keen on guarding against American products.

And the French-German cooperation on FCAS is far from going swimmingly at the moment, according to Brandl, who blamed France’s Dassault for refusing to sign an industry contract for the aircraft portion of the program.

“Dassault is not ready to accept Airbus as a partner on equal terms,” he told Defense News. “They are saying, ‘We’ll do FCAS, but only by our rules.’”

With Dassault’s export order books for its Rafale fighter full, the company may see less reason to agree on an FCAS fighter and focus on upgrades for its own jet instead, Brandl argued. In that sense, German talk of of an F-35 buy may serve as a fall-back option, he added.

A Dassault spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a question about the status of the industry contract.
 

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In Germany, Rheinmetall introduced the new KF51 Panther tank. For the first time since World War II, the tank is again called "Panther". There is little information about the tank, it is known that it has a new 130-mm cannon and a coaxial 12.7-mm machine gun. The new gun was introduced back in 2016, in response to information about the Russian Armata tank. For the first time in German tank building, the gun has a full-fledged automatic loader, where 20 shells are loaded, but after they finish, the rest must be loaded manually. On the KF51 Panther tank, you can install a remote-controlled machine gun of 7.62 mm caliber. The principle of "transparent armor" is implemented in the vehicle, the crew sees the situation around the tank with the help of screens. The tower can integrate a system for launching HERO 120 kamikaze drones and reconnaissance UAVs. The tank has passive protection and reactive protection built into the body, like the "Armata", as well as some kind of "active protection". The crew of the tank is 3 people and it is not placed in an armored capsule like the "Armata", but classically in the tower, the fourth crew member can control the drones. The weight of the KF51 Panther tank is 59 tons, the cruising range on one gas station is 500 kilometers, the price is unknown. The KF51 Panther tank has not yet been put into mass production.

 
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