Series of breakdowns at the Puma: During an exercise for participation in a NATO intervention force, the infantry fighting vehicle failed completely. The Ministry of Defense is now inviting you to a crisis talk. Minister Lambrecht will also be there.

After a series of breakdowns in the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, representatives of the Bundeswehr and the armaments industry are to discuss how to proceed today. Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is also to take part in the conversation.

The Puma infantry fighting vehicle was completely out of action during Bundeswehr exercises for participation in the NATO intervention force VJTF (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force) next year. During training with 18 combat vehicles, operational readiness dropped to zero within a few days, the “Spiegel” reported on Saturday. According to the report, the electronics of the high-tech tanks in particular are vulnerable.

The Puma infantry fighting vehicle, which was plagued by numerous technical problems, was only declared combat-ready last year. The combat vehicle developed and produced by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH (RLS) had previously made headlines as a “breakdown tank”. The Puma replaces the older Marder infantry fighting vehicle, which has meanwhile been modernized several times and is still in service with the Bundeswehr.

The Bundeswehr Association called for a stronger focus on the land forces. “We finally need land forces again for national and alliance defense that deserve their name, because deterrence and defense require forces that win in the event of a dispute,” said Chairman André Wüstner to the newspapers of the Funke media group. This can only succeed with weapon systems that remain operational under all conditions. Therefore, the Ministry of Defense must focus on the land forces.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn announced on Sunday that the military, the procurement office BAAINBw and specialists from the armaments industry would make a concerted effort to solve the problems. The general asserted: “We will fulfill our commitment to NATO from January 1.”

The inspector of the army, Lieutenant General Alfons Mais, wrote in a statement on Sunday that there had been an unexpectedly high number of casualties “under challenging exercise conditions”. “The Puma infantry fighting vehicle has so far proven to be increasingly reliable in terms of operational readiness,” says Mais. At the moment there is an extensive inventory with the aim of restoring the operational readiness of the infantry fighting vehicle as quickly as possible.

The establishment of the VJTF Rapid Reaction Force goes back to resolutions made at the NATO summit in Wales in September 2014. The force is part of an action plan in response to the Ukraine crisis that began with Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The VJTF serves to protect NATO allies in the east who feel threatened by Russia. The aim is to keep the intervention force on the highest level of readiness so that it can become active within a few days.