Billions for European Wars (II)

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - With billions in arms programs at the EU and national levels, the EU is seeking to become a globally operating military power. At its summit last week, the EU agreed not only to enhance cooperation among the member armed forces to facilitate their combat deployment - for example in Africa - but to also rapidly establish a "defense fund" planning to reallocate funds from civilian to military use. In a few years, Brussels will already be allocating €1.5 billion annually for both research and development of new military technology. The German government is also increasing its military spending and decided last week to allocate nearly ten billion euros for arms projects, including warships, tanker aircraft, satellites, and optimizing existing weaponry for current wars. In addition, billions are being earmarked for completely new projects. Lucrative for the arms industry, they include the Multi-role Combat Ship MKS 180, and a new fighter jet, capable of competing with the US F-35 and being integrated with guided missiles, drones and other weaponry.

Structured War Cooperation

With ambitious announcements, EU heads of states and governments have agreed at their summit last week, on further steps to militarize the EU. As a main element they decided to launch the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which provides for individual states to surge ahead in their military cooperation, with Germany and France at the core. Following Brexit, these two countries will be the EU's strongest military powers. Details of PESCO's concrete "projects and initiatives" as well as its "criteria and supplementary conditions" should be agreed upon by the participating states over the next three months, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared at the summit. This would enable the EU to carry out new operations, "for example in Africa," Merkel announced.[1] To achieve rapid successes, future European Council meetings will regularly receive "reports on where we stand, what needs to be done and how we can proceed." The European Union's militarization will thus become a primarily permanent theme for the EU. French president Emmanuel Macron described this development as "historic."[2]

Military Rather than Civilian

In addition, the EU will systematically reallocate funds, previously used for civilian purposes, to military deployment and measures of rearmament. In the future, the deployment of EU-Battlegroups should therefore be financed in common by the member states. Battlegroups - highly armed Rapid Intervention Forces - have been operational since 2007, but have actually never been used, because the participating countries have not agreed on the concrete theatres of operations and who would cover the financing. The Brussels Summit also agreed to set up the defense fund, recently proposed by the EU Commission. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) Until 2020, the fund will provide €90 million from the EU's budget for military research, and half-a-billion euros for military development. This will be increased, beginning in 2021, to an annual half-a-billion euros for research and one billion euros for development of new military technology. The heads of states and governments have also asked that the European Investment Bank support these arms projects.

Optimizing Deployment

German arms manufacturers can therefore also hope for millions in subventions from Brussels, Last week, the parliamentary Budget Committee approved several major contracts - with a volume totaling ten billion euros. A portion is earmarked for modernization and optimizing the deployment of existing weaponry. Among other things, the Puma armored vehicles will be re-equipped with new vision devices and an upgraded self-protection system (€300 million). The Tiger helicopters are to be armor-plated for their missions in the war zones of Mali and Afghanistan and equipped with dust filters (€100 million). The Boxer transport tanks are to be modernized for around €110 million. €220 million have been earmarked for new trucks, €370 million for combat equipment for the troops, including sighting equipment for the weapons. The focus is on providing €5.4 billion for the servicing of the Bundeswehr's vehicles.[4]

Ships, Planes, Satellites

New acquisitions have been planned for the Navy, Air Force and for the military use of outer space. Thus, the Bundeswehr is participating in a German Aerospace Center (DLR) satellite project. The satellite, which is to be commissioned in 2021, is to insure for up to 15 years the "Bundeswehr's communications during its foreign interventions," according to the military.[5] Together with the Netherlands, Luxemburg and Norway, Germany is procuring seven A330 MRTT tanker aircraft. The German share of the costs - about €1.4 billion - covers two thirds of the purchasing price. Four of the aircraft are to be stationed in the Netherlands in Eindhoven, where the European Air Transport Command (EATC) is already located.[6] The German government intends to have the three other aircraft available for its operations at the military section of the Cologne/Wahn Airport. €1.8 billion have been earmarked for Berlin's share of the planned purchase of six 212 Class submarines, which it is buying together with Norway. Two of them will be for the German Navy. Additionally more than €2 billion is planned for five corvettes. They are meant to "quickly relieve the German Navy in its operational commitments," due to its growing number of operations.

Integrated Aerial Combat

New arms projects in the billions are looming. Planning for the new Multi-role Combat Ship MKS 180 [7] has been proceeding for quite awhile; the Air Force is already contemplating a successor to the Eurofighter. The Airbus Company has already begun to develop a new jet fighter, which is supposed to be capable of competing successfully with the US F-35 ("Joint Strike Fighter") produced by Lockheed Martin. The new jet, which already is being reported on under the label of a "Future Combat Air System (FCAS)," is supposed to not only be capable of applying the usual aerial combat techniques, but also be incorporated into an "integrated system" with drones, guided missiles and other combat aircraft.[8] Germany and Spain have already begun work on this aircraft. They are now seeking to induce France to join work on the FCAS. "There is no more room for two or three different systems," says Fernando Alonso, Chair of Airbus Military.[9]

[1] Pressekonferenz von Bundeskanzlerin Merkel beim Europäischen Rat in Brüssel. 22.06.2017.
[2] Nikolaj Nielsen: 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit. euobserver.com 22.06.2017.
[3] See Europas Leitkultur.
[4], [5] Haushaltsausschuss genehmigt Rüstungsprojekte. www.bmvg.de 21.06.2017.
[6] See Unter deutschem Kommando.
[7] See Milliarden für europäische Kriege.
[8], [9] Airbus entwickelt neuen europäischen Kampfjet. www.welt.de 12.06.2017.