German military swaps APCs for NATO force after breakdowns

BERLIN (AP) — Defense officials said Monday that Germany is readying decades-old armored personnel carriers for a key NATO force after the modern vehicles that should have been deployed suffered a mass breakdown.

Germany is scheduled to take the rotating lead of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VJTF, on Jan. 1.

The German army’s 37th Panzergrenadier Brigade had originally earmarked dozens of modern Puma APCs for the force, but during a recent military exercise all 18 Pumas deployed suffered technical failures.

Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said the 42 Pumas earmarked for the NATO force will be replaced with much older Marder vehicles. She insisted this wouldn’t affect the mission.

“NATO and our allies can rely 100% on Germany’s commitments,” Lambrecht said.

Lambrecht ordered a halt to additional Puma purchases and said its manufacturers, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall, have a responsibility to swiftly fix the affected vehicles.

“We need the Pumas to be repaired quickly,” she told reporters after a meeting with Slovakia’s defense minister, Jaroslav Nad, in Bratislava. “But beyond that, we need a reliable perspective if we are to continue planning with these systems.”

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