Defence ministry prepares review as part of budget deficit reduction plans

The German defence ministry is to launch a review of operational costs in an attempt to offset shortfalls in its defence budget. The plan to reduce non-procurement spending, which could lead to a reduction in training and domestic deployment, has been ordered by the finance ministry to find savings of €2.3 billion ($2.5 billion) as part of its budget deficit reduction plan.

Defence minister Peter Struck says the government will cancel its planned order for an additional 30 Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters to save €700 million. Germany is to retire around 90 Panavia Tornado strike aircraft in 2005, four years earlier than originally planned. This will save €1.1 billion, while not putting these aircraft through a planned life extension will save another €600 million, says Struck.

The air force will also disband its Raytheon Hawk and Euromissile Roland surface-to-air missile units.

The defence ministry says the review will focus on transforming the armed services into a force that can be easily deployed for international peacekeeping missions.

The ministry says it is "very confident" that the 2003 budget of €24.4 billion will face no further reductions before being approved by parliament in April. The defence budget is fixed until 2006 and the country will meet its existing procurement obligations, says the ministry.

Germany last year cut its order for Airbus Military A400M transport aircraft from 73 to 60, the minimum possible to ensure the continuation of the programme.

Source: Flight International