The Bundeswehr encountered serious technical problems during exercises with infantry fighting vehicles Puma for NATO’s “spearhead”.

During training with 18 combat vehicles, operational readiness dropped to zero within a few days, the “Spiegel” reported on Saturday. The magazine referred to a letter from the commander of the 10th Panzer Division, Major General Ruprecht von Butler, to the army leadership and the Ministry of Defence.

According to information from the German Press Agency, the maneuver took place at the Panzer Troops’ target practice center and the letter has caused a stir in the Ministry of Defense since Friday. Because the new breakdowns affect vehicles in a special configuration, with which the Buttlar subordinate Panzergrenadierbrigade 37 is supposed to participate in the VJTV (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force) of the alliance from the new year.

After reading the letter, the “Spiegel” reported a total failure. The last two “Pumas” still ready for action “on yesterday’s shooting day after an hour and a half with turret defects” also failed, the general wrote.

According to the report, the electronics of the high-tech tanks in particular are vulnerable, and there was even a serious cable fire in the driver’s compartment of one tank. The troops were already aware of the nature of the defects, the e-mail said, but they had “never occurred with this frequency before”. The systems were only moved on shooting ranges in the North German lowlands and were “not overused” there. According to the assessment of the foreman of the affected company, which he considers very credible, the General writes, it can be assumed that the company will only be fully operational again in three to four months.

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”.