It was announced on Sunday that all 18 Puma armored personnel carriers deployed during a Bundeswehr exercise had failed due to technical problems. The armored personnel carriers are supposed to be used from January for the NATO Rapid Reaction Force.
"The recent failures of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle are a major setback," Lambrecht admitted. "I have commissioned an analysis by the BMVg and the Bundeswehr, Heeresinstandsetzungslogistik GmbH and industry by the end of next week."
At the same time, the minister emphasized that NATO could "continue to rely on our fulfillment of our duties with the VJTF" - this is the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, NATO's fastest reaction force. "We already included the Marder infantry fighting vehicle in the preparations and that has proven to be wise." At the turn of the year, Germany takes over the VJTF leadership, which rotates among the NATO members.
As a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) said in Berlin, work is currently being done "at full speed on the damage assessment" in relation to Puma. In the morning, Lambrecht received "detailed" information from Inspector General Eberhard Zorn, from her State Secretary for Armament, Benedikt Zimmer, and from the general who conducted the exercise in question. In addition, talks with industry representatives are scheduled.
The spokesman said the technical problems with all 18 tanks used in the exercise were an "unusually high level of casualties". After earlier exercises, the ministry was "still quite confident" because "the Puma had done well".
According to the spokesman, the Bundeswehr has a total of 350 Puma vehicles. However, only 42 of them are configured for the requirements of the VJTF. For this reason, Marder-type armored personnel carriers are now being used. This was also planned from the beginning as a "fallback solution".
The spokesman did not want to comment on the question of whether the failure of the Pumas could also be due to the special configuration for the NATO mission. It is necessary to wait for the investigations. The goal is for the Puma to "be ready for action again as soon as possible". The marten meets the NATO requirements, the spokesman added.
Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit also emphasized that it is now a matter of analyzing the problem and "having the Puma ready for use as quickly as possible". The armored personnel carrier is a "highly complex system" and the tests of the past few months have actually turned out to be "very hopeful". However, the "strong stress test" in the past few weeks has led to the well-known, "very, very unpleasant result".