German defense ministry wants to spend billions on armaments this year

BERLIN - The German Defense Ministry plans to spend billions of euros on armaments this year to tackle deficiencies in the armed forces' equipment, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Sunday.
Germany sharply curtailed military spending after the end of the Cold War, but began boosting spending again after Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014. A report this year found missing spare parts and quality defects mean less than half of Germany's submarines, warplanes and some other key weapons are ready for use.
The newspaper report, citing a list of purchases the ministry wants to make, said the budget and defense committees were due to approve 18 contracts each worth more than 25 million euros.
The ministry was not immediately available for comment on the report.
Handelsblatt said orders include procuring Israeli Heron TP drones, which Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and their junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), agreed in their coalition deal earlier this year.
Germany's armed forces are also due to get seven rescue helicopters, the newspaper said. It said the Defense Ministry wanted to extend the contract for the deployment of Ukrainian Antonov transport aircraft for the period 2019 to 2021.
The ministry also wants to procure six of Lockheed Martin Corp's C-130J Hercules transport aircraft, the newspaper said.
It said the list included several improvements for Puma armored personnel carriers, a maintenance contract for NH90 helicopters, radar technology for the Eurofighter, telecommunication facilities for frigates and new uniforms and protective equipment.
It said officials had described the list as "preliminary" and would depend on the 2018 budget.
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