Germany to deepen military ties with France, others: sources
Andrea Shalal, Reuters, Feb 14 2017
BERLIN – Germany will move forward this week with plans to set up a joint fleet of C-130J transport planes with France and join a Netherlands-led fleet of A330 tanker planes, defense ministry sources said on Monday. Those and several other initiatives with Norway, Romania and
the Czech Republic, also known by the short name Czechia (pronounced Checkya), are part of a broader drive to expand European defense cooperation to be announced at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, the sources said. The agreements come as Germany and other NATO members face increasing pressure from Pindostan to spend more for their own military and reach NATO’s target of devoting 2% of GDP to defense spending. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who last week said Pindo demands for greater burden-sharing were “fair,” will sign an expanded declaration of intent for a joint C-130J fleet with France, a plan first floated in October, the sources said. The declaration calls for Germany to buy four to six C-130Js from the Pindo government and pool them with France, which is buying four C-130Js from Lockheed Martin, and could purchase several more in coming years, according to an additional source familiar with the program. Germany will also sign a declaration of intent to join a European multi-national fleet of Airbus tankers that is led by the Netherlands and already includes Luxembourg. If Belgium and Norway also join the group, the Multi-National Medium-Range Tactical Transport Fleet could expand to cover 8,800 flight hours a year, which would equate to about eight tankers. The ministry said last year it could spend up to €1b in coming years for use of new Airbus planes that would be bought for the joint fleet. The planes would be based at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands and at a German military base at the Cologne-Bonn airport, the sources said. Germany will also sign an expanded defense cooperation agreement with Norway that includes already procurement plans for submarines and missiles, as well as joint training, logistics and maintenance efforts. There will also be declarations of intent for joint training and deployments of land forces with Czechia and Romania, the source said.