WASHINGTON — German defense leaders have vowed to coordinate closely with France on a beefed-up capability for maritime surveillance and anti-submarine warfare, following reports that Berlin’s acquisition of American-made Boeing P-8 Poseidon aircraft would nix the bilateral project.
The vow to continue pursuing the Maritime Airborne Warning System, aimed at flying sometime around 2035, suggests the German Defence Ministry has yet to make up its mind on buying more Poseidon aircraft than the initial five already on order with Boeing.
Reports swirled before the summer break in Germany that buying seven more of the planes was only a matter of time, after lawmakers approved an extra €100 billion (U.S. $97 billion) for defense in light of Russia’s assault on Ukraine.
That massive pot of money is rapidly getting spoken for, however, with ammunition, aircraft, vehicles and additional submarines high on the list of requirements. Inflation has also shaved off some of the purchasing power.
Now, officials in Berlin will await France’s signal next month on how to proceed with an interim capability until the MAWS program produces usable equipment in 19-plus years, according to a ministry missive to lawmakers obtained by Defense News.
The Germany Navy’s P-3C Orion aircraft are getting old and can only be flown for a few more years, services officials have said.
According to the letter, French officials have commissioned a study on possible ways forward in aerial submarine defense, with results expected to be briefed to German counterparts in November. “In parallel, Germany is also examining additional national options,” the letter stated.
After receiving information from France, officials in Berlin expect to make predictions about how to proceed with MAWS and how many additional P-8 planes the Germany Navy might need.
The task of keeping tabs on adversarial submarine traffic near Europe’s waters has taken on new urgency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. European officials additionally are worried about protecting undersea energy and data lines after an explosion destroyed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, an act that NATO has labeled sabotage.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.