“Gewisse Leichen ausm Keller des BMVg nachholen”

“She has to haul certain corpses out of the defense ministry’s cellar” at this stage, said a Leftists party spokesman about Germany’s new defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (C.D.U.). “Including these weapons projects.”

There was an uproar in the Bundestag after the Greens discovered the defense ministry made a 55-million euro payment to MTU in December 2013 without obtaining Bundestag approval or informing defense ministry management. The payment was compensation for a 2011 decision to reduce the German military’s Eurofighter order from 180 to 140 fighter jets. But budget rules require Bundestag approval for every single expenditure >25 million euros. Germany’s new defense minister said she was shocked and, said Spiegel.de, invited all responsible persons in her ministry to a meeting of her predecessor’s so-called Arms Board [Rüstungsboard] on 19 Feb 2014 to discuss the defense department’s biggest procurement projects.

Update on 20 Feb 2014: New defense minister Ursula von der Leyen (C.D.U.) fired Thomas de Maizière’s state secretary Stéphane Beemelmans and her Weapons department head Detlef Selhausen, “both considered key figures in the Euro Hawk drone controversy” said ARD tagesschau.de. She announced plans to fundamentally reform the German military’s entire planning and procurement because costs and schedules for billion-euro projects are not transparent, she said. ARD tagesschau.de said at this stage corruption cannot be ruled out in the defense ministry and in its complex interrelationships with German industry.

Over the next three months, the German military is going to “transilluminate” [durchleuchten] its ~1200 procurement projects, including gathering suggestions for how they can be better accompanied/managed/monitored and controlled/inspected/checked [begleitet und kontrolliert].

Update on 04 Apr 2014: The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that some major defense procurement projects continue despite the new minister’s freeze.

“Although important decisions have been postponed or cast into question for some large arms orders, other major projects are ongoing, such as delivery of the new A400M transport plane (which has a long history of delays and cost overruns) and the new Puma armored tank (in which many initial deficiencies were found).” And, especially, the defense ministry is quietly preparing for a project that will cost billions, called the TLVS, taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem, a new generation of missile defense that will include new missiles, radar equipment, command centers and networking capabilities.

Ten years ago Germany began working with the U.S. and Italy on the new missile defense, called Meads, and has spent about a billion euros on prototypes since then. TLVS project requirements include “360-degree radar and a modular system in which any new components, such as launching platforms or other defense missiles, can be added. The defense batteries should be rapidly transportable by plane to distant theaters.” The defense department is looking at five options for this project, including using Lockheed’s Meads, Raytheon’s Patriots, or combinations of the two. German defense hawks will try to persuade other countries to join in development and deployment, lowering Germany’s costs for both. Vladimir Putin is helping with this by creating interest in missile defense in e.g. Poland and the Netherlands.

(G’VISS ah   LIE chh en   ow! sem   KELLAH   dess   BOON dess min iss TARE ee oom   fir   fair TIED ee goong   NAW chh hole en.)

Selbstständig ausweichen, eigenständig ausweichen

Independently avoid, autonomously avoid.

The airspace regulation problem cited for why the European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.S.A.’s Federal Aviation Administration refused to allow the at-one-time largest remotely operated drone, the U.S./German Euro Hawk, to fly over U.S. and European airspace was the agencies’ requirement for “sense-and-avoid” technology ensuring drones avoid collisions with other aircraft as well as a human pilot would do. Wouldn’t guaranteed collision avoidance be impossible without first implementing Isaac Asimov-like laws of robotics to the extent that the drone would “want” to survive and protect just as much as a human pilot? Even Asimov’s laws of robotics might not fix drones’ vulnerability to remote hacking that could deliberately crash them, armed or unarmed. Supplementary to the air traffic rules preventing collisions with other aircraft, what regulations might help keep hacked or broken drones from colliding with objects on the ground or in orbit?

The situation may be evolving and toward deregulation of anticollision requirements in the U.S.A.: an FAA.gov press release dated 26 Jul 2013 announced a “giant leap” and “milestone” had been achieved because the Federal Aviation Administration was for the first time “type-certifying” unmanned aircraft for flight: the Scan Eagle X200 from Insitu and the PUMA from AeroVironment, each weighing ca. 55 pounds with ~3-meter wingspans. “A falcon flying blind,” that cannot “see” without its ground stations, the Euro Hawk was said to weigh 15 metric tons and be 40 meters wide. Its delivery flight was supposed to be at 20,000 meters altitude.

Germany’s Euro Hawk surveillance drone program was canceled in May 2013—and the sudden course correction may only have been caused by a concerned whistleblower who informed Bundestag member Hans-Peter Bartels (S.P.D.) in whose district they were going to base the crash-prone drones. Since then, Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (C.D.U.) was caught lying about when he knew the Euro Hawk was a bust yet didn’t report this and continued paying for the program. If the German defense ministry under Thomas de Maizière (C.D.U.), Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (C.S.U.), Franz Josef Jung (C.D.U.) and Peter Struck (S.P.D.) ignored internal warnings for years saying this seemingly-unsolvable safety problem was unsolvable under the planned budget and schedule, then people in government appear to have been several hundred million euros certain they could eliminate the air traffic regulations rather than fix the engineering issue.

The Euro Hawk prototype delivered from California to Germany in 2011 twice lost contact with its operators, according to FAZ.net, for about ten minutes each time. When found again it had deviated from course and “even lost altitude.”

German voters already experience a frisson of angst if they see or hear military jets in the air because it reminds them of when hundreds of spectators were sliced and burned in the firey crash of fighter jets flying in formation at an air show over Ramstein air base. The notorious industrial band took the name Ramstein after the disaster as an act of provocation.

(ZELL bst shten dick   OW! ss vye chhen,   EYE geh n shten dick   OW! ss vye chhen.)

Kollisionsschutz

“Collision protection.” In a surprise move ~14 May 2013 the German Defense Ministry [Bundesverteidigungsministerium] cancelled its Euro Hawk drone development cooperation with the USA because the drone was not going to receive permission from civilian authorities to fly in European airspace. When the cancellation was announced, GDefense said they’d spent 550 million euros on the project, but now they’re saying 660 million. The F.A.Z. Sonntag reported GDefense knew about the “Euro Hawk” civil-airspace permission problems in 2004, three years before they signed the procurement contracts to purchase the drones. Airspace permission was denied to the unmanned surveillance drone because it lacked an adequate “collision protection” system [“fehlende Kollisionsschutz“]. Air safety authorities, business people in the aerospace industry and the German Defense Department’s own licensing office warned the Defense Ministry about the paperwork problems in 2004. Furthermore, the opposition SPD and Green Party accuse, GDefense subsequently “massively interfered” in the German Federal Court of Auditors [Bundesrechnungshof]’s attempt to do their job by investigating what the hell was going on there. On 18 May 2013 the Bundesrechnungshof auditors said they’d still not received all the documents they’d requested and some of the status reports they did receive were blacked out by censors.

Half the project’s money was spent on developing the drone vehicle in the USA and half on developing the drone’s special electronic surveillance system in Germany. The surveillance system is supposedly too large to go in other drones but could be carried by a normal plane. One Euro Hawk prototype was delivered and four more drones were going to be ordered.

The F.A.Z. Sonntag reported that serious problems occurred during the drone prototype’s delivery flight from California to Bavaria in 2011, when contact with the controlling satellite was lost twice for about ten minutes at a time and the drone deviated from its course. But the Defense Ministry did not report these problems to the Bundestag. US air safety authorities also had refused to issue airspace permission to the drone, before its 2011 transfer flight. Anti-drone activist Medea Benjamin, author of “Drone warfare: Killing by remote control,” said in a 24 Sep 2012 interview that the US air force admits about one-third of these drones have been crashing. She said apparently it’s OK for them to crash on some countries but not other countries.

The German Defense Ministry’s reason for refusing to share the information requested by the controlling authorities, the Bundesrechnungshof auditors, was agreements made with “industry partners” not to share information with third parties. A spokesman for the federal auditing authority said not receiving all the information they needed to do their jobs was “unusual. We don’t experience something like that very often.” And: “The Bundesrechnungshof has an unlimited right of inspection which the Defense Ministry cannot nullify via agreements with third parties. We can and will not accept the Defense Ministry’s limitations of our access to the files.”

On 22 May 2013, Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (CDU) said he will let the federal auditors see all documents now, even despite putative contractual conditions agreed with the USA.

Germany has also contributed ~483 million euros to NATO’s Hawk drone (“Global Hawk”?) which is based on the same US drone and thus might also have civil airspace licensing issues.

(Coe LEE zee OWNS shootz.)

Blog at WordPress.com.