Entire battalion of German Puma tanks fail to pass latest drill in embarrassing blow to its military capabilities

A German S Pz Puma equipped with an effective vision concept and a 30mm Mauser canon is on display at the Eurosatory arms show, in Villepinte, outside Paris, Wednesday, June 14, 2006. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

Not a single one of Germany’s 18 modernized Puma tanks intended for the NATO Rapid Reaction Force (NRF) were deemed fit for action during a recent military drill, according to reports by German news outlet Der Spiegel.

The Puma infantry fighting vehicles were expected to be used by NATO’s NRF, however their operation problems are the latest in a long line of failures affecting Germany’s military capabilities.

According to Army Inspector General Alfons Mais, “there was an unexpectedly high number of failures in the demanding exercise conditions. So far, the Puma combat vehicle has proven to be increasingly reliable in terms of operational readiness.”

General Ruprecht von Butler, commander of the 10th Armored Division, described the operational readiness of the Puma tanks as a lottery bet.

“Unfortunately, I have to express myself so harshly. It cannot be compared with the usual reliability of German ground vehicles,” he told the German publication.

The Puma infantry vehicles are notable for their high-quality armor but are understood to be particularly unreliable, meaning the German armed forces have been unable to replace all of its Marder tanks which date back to the 1970s with the updated vehicles.

Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn assured the Bundeswehr will rectify the problems and be ready to fulfill its obligations by Jan. 1.

On Monday, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht expressed her concern at the military’s latest operational readiness failure, and announced that the country will not be purchasing any more Puma infantry tanks until they have proven themselves to be reliable.

She confirmed reports that several of the vehicles had been rendered out of service during the recent military drill.

“The recent failures of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle are a major setback,” Lambrecht said, adding that she had ordered a full, detailed report on the matter by next week.

“Our troops must be able to rely on weapon systems being robust and stable even in combat,” she added, although continued to assure NATO partners that Germany could be relied upon to spearhead the alliance’s European joint task force (VJTF) which it is expected to lead in 2023.

It isn’t the first time this month that Germany’s military has come under scrutiny. A leaked classified report detailing the effectiveness of Germany’s armed forces revealed they are underfunded, under-resourced, and barely capable of fulfilling the country’s NATO obligations, this website previously reported.

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