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Euros

2. German Defense Spending

in Army · Conflicts 2017 · Economics 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · Nation 2017 · Politics 2017 · Skepticism 2017 17 views / 4 comments

GEOMETR.IT realcleardefense.com

On 7 March this year, an announcement was made which, when further investigated, tells a great deal about the whole issue of German post-Cold War defense spending.  The story behind Germany’s efforts to replace its Airborne SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) capability is a perfect example of what is currently wrong with how Germany prioritizes and spends its scarce defense Euros.

The IOC of the “state of the art” SIGINT UAV was originally supposed to be 2015.  Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned.  The Euro Hawk, to everyone’s embarrassment, didn’t get the proper clearance to fly in German airspace, and after millions of euros spent, the program suffered a four-year delay, and then-German Defense Minister de Maizière was forced to resign in 2013.

However, major “military-industrial programs” backed by lobbyists in Berlin, really never die.  They just quietly reinvent themselves in the face of little critical parliamentary oversight.  The latest and final iteration is to use the USN version of the Global Hawk; the Triton.  Money spent up until 2016:  €600 Million (including €270 Million for ISIS development).  Assuming no overruns, the additional cost of the program (including three Tritons and additional ISIS/ Euro Hawk testing) will be another €900+ Million, and an IOC of 2025 which will surely slip.

What does Germany get for its money, and going with the “industrial solution?”  Germany is no longer part of the USAF SIGINT upgrade path as the UK and other NATO and Allied countries.  It now has to depend on German resources alone for its sensor package, to maintain currency (if possible) on the latest Russian software/cryptographic and hardware upgrades, and countermeasures.

It has a large unmanned platform which is anything but covert and would have to request overfly rights to go to many regional areas of interest.  A platform which will have to be re-designed to carry the essential EO/IR sensor, and one that was simply not designed for the SIGINT mission.  It is telling that when Australia recently decided to select the Triton for its long-range naval surveillance role, it pointedly refused to consider a SIGINT version of the UAV.  Why should they?  They are buying manned SIGINT aircraft (business jets) as part of the global U.S. system which Germany left in 2010?

Germany can proudly tell the new Trump Administration that not only are we “acquiring a new SIGINT system as part of our increased defense spending, it’s American as well!”  Such self-praise rings hollow.  Germany has done itself no favors.  It has imposed a 15-year (and counting) SIGINT gap on itself, it has spent (cynics would say wasted) almost € 2 Billion on an inflexible platform designed for wide area ocean surveillance; not SIGINT over central Europe, and it has left the U.S.-led SIGINT group to which they belonged for forty years.

It is no wonder that the smaller NATO countries shake their heads when this subject comes up.  The German’s smaller, very capable, SIGINT aircraft can covertly prowl around areas like the Crimea, and rescue refugees in the Mediterranean while German/U.S. industry and government employees celebrate another “Triton design review” in San Diego.

Germany is a modern, leading industrial power.  There is no excuse for Germany not spending the political capital to allow for increased defense spending to the agreed upon 2% of GDP NATO spending goal.   The Peace Peek story is only one example of wasteful defense spending based on industrial, rather than military priorities.

Another example which easily comes to mind is the A400M where a French engine was mandated over the proven Canadian engine; resulting in continuing delays and problems.  While the Euro Hawk/Triton program makes soothing headlines about increased German defense spending, and “Trans-Atlantic cooperation,” it is a wasteful boondoggle which will cost scarce resources, and, if ever fielded, do little to increase German nor NATO’s security in the face of increasing Russian threats.

John Beckner is a Defense and Aerospace Consultant and has been living and working in Europe (Brussels/Munich) since the late 1980’s.  He has been a keen observer of European and NATO defense policy; both in industry and working for the U.S. Government. 

http://www.realcleardefense.com


GEOMETR.IT

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GEOMETR.IT

1. German Defense Spending

in Army · Conflicts 2017 · Economics 2017 · EN · Europe 2017 · Nation 2017 · Politics 2017 · Skepticism 2017 7 views / 0 comments

realcleardefense.com

On 7 March this year, an announcement was made which, when further investigated, tells a great deal about the whole issue of German post-Cold War defense spending.  The story behind Germany’s efforts to replace its Airborne SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) capability is a perfect example of what is currently wrong with how Germany prioritizes and spends its scarce defense Euros.

With the March announcement, the issue of the future German airborne SIGINT  mission system platform seems to have been finally settled. This came with the German government deciding to move forward with the procurement of Triton UAVs from Northrop Grumman, and the via the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) process.  The SIGINT mission system will be the inaptly named “ISIS system” being developed by a former-Airbus/Cassidian subsidiary (now up for and partially owned by an investment company).

For the past seven years, this program has followed an expensive and torturous path.  The story started in 1969 when Germany started equipping its five Br-1150 French Atlantique aircraft with a then-modern SIGINT system from the U.S.

Air Force via the FMS process. The aircraft were flown by the German Navy and provided signals intelligence for whole Bundeswehr/MoD (not just the German Navy/Marine) and the BND.  The program was administered by the BWB but was completely funded via FMS channels and under government-to-government agreements with the U.S. Government (U.S. Air Force/NSA).  The program, known as Peace Peek, underwent continuous upgrades but fell victim to budget cuts as operating costs became prohibitive.

The sudden decision to cease operation of the Peace Peek aircraft came as a shock to the German defense and intelligence establishment.  However, with Russia operating as a “non-adversary” under the pre-Crimea “reset with Russia,” the political will for an immediate replacement became how to “get by” without strategic airborne SIGINT.

While it is completely understandable for a country to stop operating a 1950’s aircraft which cost about €20,000 per hour to operate, it is not understandable for a country like Germany to completely give up such a strategic capability without a replacement or even plans to acquire one.

The advantage of Peace Peek was that its systems were either the same or derivatives of systems found in the U.S. Air Force’s Rivet Joint RC-135 aircraft.

German participation in Peace Peek meant that starting with data gained by the U.S. forces in Vietnam (Soviet SA-2 capabilities, etc.), Germany was able to keep abreast of the current Soviet threats.  For example, German SIGINT picked up over the Baltic where the Atlantiques roamed was matched against data gained from Soviet systems in Angola.  The program worked to everyone’ss benefit The UK later joined this arrangement with the Air Seeker program with other nations quietly participating as well.

The fervor to cut German defense spending from 2008-2010 made the Atlantiques an easy target.  Worldwide, no service chief stands up to defend a joint-service “MoD asset” which has no political support.  For the German Navy, they felt that if neither the other services nor the BND wanted the intel these aircraft provided, they would gladly sacrifice it.

Thus, the decision was made to stand down the Atlantiques with no replacement in sight.  Enter industry, both German and American.  Northrop Grumman was eager to find exports for its Global Hawk, and while it had success with its NATO AGS program, saw Germany as the perfect market for its “Euro Hawk” to fulfill the new German mission called the Signalerfassende Luftgestützte Weiträumige Überwachung und Aufklärung (SLWUA) program. EADS (now Airbus) and Northrop Grumman jumped into the gap left by the retirement of the Atlantiques, and the German lack of SIGINT capability.

Northrop Grumman found the logical German partner in Airbus to prime the program as well as supply the SIGINT system (supplied by the then-Airbus subsidiary Cassidian) and pitched the German SIGINT version of the Global Hawk UAV as the “Euro Hawk.”  The name alone, using “Euro,” was chosen on purpose to sound EU and Alliance-related.  Essentially, German and U.S. defense industry hijacked a manned SIGINT requirement (not oother nation has their primary SIGINT sensor on a UAV), and turned it into an expensive financial sinkhole eating up scarce German budget resources.

John Beckner is a Defense and Aerospace Consultant and has been living and working in Europe (Brussels/Munich) since the late 1980’s.  He has been a keen observer of European and NATO

defense policy; both in industry and working for the U.S. Government.

http://www.realcleardefense.com

GEOMETR.IT

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