Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

The German defence ministry has prepared a lengthy procurement wish-list for the 1999 budget, including key helicopter and missile programmes, but it threatens to overload the parliamentary defence committee's ability to pass all the items this session.

According to sources in Bonn, it seems likely that several items will have to be delayed, and may not make it into next year's budget as a result of additional pressure caused by preparations for September's parliamentary election.

The list includes DM299 million ($164 million) for the upgrade of 17 GKN Westland Sea Lynx Mk88s to Super Lynx standard. This was in question due to lobbying from supporters of the NH Industries NH90 multi-role helicopter (Flight International, 1-7 April), but is now "back on track" according to GKN Westland. Talks are still going on in an attempt to push down the price of the upgrade, and this item is due to be cleared by the end of May.

Production investment and series production of the NH90 is also on the list, with DM11.836 billion to be cleared to finance this by the end of June, although this project has been the subject of haggling among politicians recently. Quantity and unit price are still subject to negotiations with manufacturer NH Industries and partner companies Eurocopter, Agusta and Fokker Aerostructures.

The army is expecting purchase clearance for the first batch of 80 Eurocopter Tiger battlefield helicopters at a cost of DM4.826 billion. This project now seems more secure than the NH90 purchase.

The Luftwaffe is now hoping to get clearance for the long-delayed replacement of its last two Boeing 707 transports by ex-Lufthansa Airbus A310s, at a cost of DM167 million. The air force says if this is not done in 1999, the veteran 707s will become much more maintenance-intensive and costly to run.

On the missiles front, June should see parliament debate the DM115 million definition phase of a medium range air-to-air missile to arm the Eurofighter 2000. The defence committee is urging the start of this project "without delay" in a European industrial partnership, while the controversial seeker selection remains unresolved.

Also in June, parliamentarians are due to tackle the DM390 million medium-range Trigat requirement for infantry and armoured vehicles. The long-range variant, the Trigat LR, to arm the Tiger helicopter, is notably off the list.

France has already withdrawn from the Trigat LR due to budget cuts. Programme sources say concerns with the missile's range, coupled with the long lead period before the French Tiger enters service in 2011, contributed to the decision. The interdiction variant of the Matra BAe Dynamics Apache and the Horus reconnaissance satellite were also cancelled.

The German MoD hopes for clearance in late April for the DM279 million upgrade of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to improve intercept capability against tactical ballistic missiles. The 1999 funding covers a radar upgrade, while the overall project will cost DM891 million.

Source: Flight International