Germany votes for $100bn military spending splurge

Planned acquisitions include F-35 fighter jets, tanks and ships

An F-35 Lightning II Aircraft. US Air National Guard / AP
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A special fund of €100 billion ($107bn) to strengthen the German military was approved by members of Parliament on Friday, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine changed national policy.

The plan will kick-start a massive procurement of modern weapons. Germany has also, separately, promised weapons to Ukraine — another major change, as Berlin usually avoids sending military equipment to war zones.

“This is the moment in which Germany says we are there when Europe needs us,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock of the Green party told MPs.

Deputies of the Bundestag lower house approved the measure with 567 votes, 96 against and 20 abstentions after Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition held lengthy negotiations with the main opposition Union bloc.

The Bundesrat upper house, which represents Germany’s state governments, must still approve the measure.

“This is a historic day,” Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said. “This is a lot of money, but it is well invested — in the security and peace of our country.”

Chancellor Olaf Schulz steps away from a ballot urn after voting for the creation of a special defence fund. Getty Images

Mr Scholz first announced the fund on February 27, three days after Russia invaded Ukraine, and said that Germany would now spend more than 2 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence — a Nato target that Germany has lagged behind on for years.

Officials acknowledge that the German military, the Bundeswehr, currently possesses ageing, poorly functioning equipment.

Ms Baerbock said “the shortcomings of the Bundeswehr can’t be sustained for a second longer”.

Mr Scholz said earlier this week that the planned spending spree was a “quantum leap” that will be greeted with “relief” in Paris, London, Washington and Warsaw.

“‘Finally,’ they say, ‘Germany is taking on the security policy responsibility that it has in the 21st century,’” he said.

The opposition has insisted during negotiations that the fund be used exclusively for the Bundeswehr rather than other items on a potential national security shopping list, including civilian cyber defence measures

Some details of how the money will be spent have been released: the bulk of the German investment, €40.9bn, will go towards the air force with the acquisition of 35 US-made F-35 fighter jets, 15 Eurofighter jets and 60 Chinook transport helicopters.

About €20bn will be earmarked for the navy, mainly for new corvettes, frigates and a 212-model submarine.

More than €16bn will beef up the army's holdings with Marder transport tanks and Fuchs armoured troop carriers.

Updated: June 03, 2022, 6:26 PM
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