In December, all 18 Puma armored personnel carriers failed during an exercise. While industry was initially blamed, the real reason is now coming to light.

During an exercise by the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle, all 18 vehicles failed in December. While the Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who has now resigned, initially blamed industry for the debacle, the real reason is now coming to light: operating errors by the troops are said to be primarily responsible for the total failure, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

On Wednesday, the Defense Committee of the Bundestag admitted that the units were poorly prepared and not familiar enough with the system. The tanks also lacked spare parts and tools.

The German infantry fighting vehicle Puma was actually supposed to be presented to the NATO allies this year as the most modern infantry fighting vehicle. Finally, since January, Germany has been leading NATO’s Rapid Reaction Force: a combat unit that can be sent anywhere within a week. The Puma was intended to support the more powerful Leopard 2 main battle tanks on the battlefield. During the exercise in December, the disillusionment came: all armored personnel carriers failed.

Problems that were previously known emerged during the exercise. With the Puma, for example, a key electronic component for data exchange fails if it gets too warm. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a safety shut-off caused problems with the fuel supply and some parts broke too quickly when the soldiers with their heavy equipment got in the way.

But one more detail is surprising: in the run-up, maintenance was massively neglected. According to image information, the armored personnel carriers are said to have lacked a total of 3200 hours of maintenance.

FDP expert Marcus Faber also sees a major problem with maintenance: “Maintenance is part of sensible exercise planning. Here I see considerable deficits in the provision of maintained material and trained personnel in preparation and implementation,” says die Bild.

Nevertheless, most of the damage could have been repaired by the troops themselves within 30 minutes, the defense committee said this week. Because there was only one case of really serious damage – a cable fire, reports the picture. However, the troops should have been better trained on the system for this.

But that’s exactly where the problem lies: the troops don’t have enough maintenance staff. In the newest 10th Armored Division, there were not enough specialists who were trained on the new model, according to the image. In addition, the working time ordinance is said to have prevented all repair capacities from being available.

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The CSU defense expert Florian Hahn gives the SZ a poor report on the training, planning and logistics related to the Puma. He says the infantry fighting vehicle’s high failure rate is a “single event” that cannot be attributed to an industry failure. Even if the industry should fix the Puma’s problems, the real reason for the total failure is the insufficient training of the troops.

That’s why Green MP Sebastian Schäfer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that an “excellently trained troop” is required as a prerequisite for the use of the highly complex Puma.