German Defense Minister Tries to Fix Long Broken System

Germany’s new defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, is changing the character of her country in all military matters. Her next step: sacking those responsible for procurement projects.

Von der Leyen has never shied away from taking on big projects in her political career, whether as a minister of family affairs or of labor and social affairs. Now she is ready to deal with what might be her biggest challenge. Following the long mismanagement of arms procurements in the German Defense Ministry, she has dismissed two of the responsible civil servants.

As a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s third government, Von der Leyen insisted on taking over the Defense Ministry, sending her predecessor, Thomas de Maiziére, back to his former post as secretary of the interior. What surprised some, others saw as her opportunity to put her first in line to succeed Merkel as conservative party leader. And now she is doing everything in her power to prove just that. Read more “German Defense Minister Tries to Fix Long Broken System”

Germany’s Merkel Drawn into Drone Procurement Scandal

Germany’s cancelation of its Euro Hawk unmanned drone program has become an issue for Chancellor Angela Merkel who had so far been able to stay out of the controversy. Revelations in Der Spiegel this week suggest that she might no longer be able to protect her defense minister, Thomas de Maizière, one of her most trusted cabinet members.

The procurement of the Euro Hawk, a variant of the American Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, has been a financial and political disaster for the German coalition. Necessary adjustments in light of approval problems would have added between €500 and €600 million to the program, on top of the €500 million already spent on the prototype. Five planes were ordered. Similar cost overruns on those would have caused the program to far exceed the €1.2 billion it was allowed.

A cooperation between the American company Northrop Grumman and Europe’s EADS, the Euro Hawk was supposed to enhance the surveillance capabilities of the German military and support NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance system. Read more “Germany’s Merkel Drawn into Drone Procurement Scandal”