German Defense Minister Fires Deputy in Arms Procurement Drive

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen fired two senior staff members and established a review process on buying weapons, such as drones, helicopters and transport planes.

Stephane Beemelmans, her deputy in charge of armaments, and Detlef Selhausen, a department head who supervises equipment and information technology, will be replaced, the Defense Ministry in Berlin said. External supervisors will scrutinize project management processes, it said.

German procurement of arms such as the Euro Hawk drone, the Eurofighter combat jet and the Airbus A400M transport plane have been plagued by mismanagement, cost-overruns and delays in delivery that have undermined Germany’s combat readiness.

“My experience from the past weeks is that we need a reset,”, von der Leyen told reporters today. “The goal is that our soldiers have the best possible equipment and the use of taxpayer money always has to be transparent and efficient.”

An armaments board introduced by her predecessor, Thomas de Maiziere, who faced calls to step down over his management of the failed Euro Hawk drone project, will meet every six months to discuss progress on major arms projects and identify risks early, the ministry said.

At the first meeting yesterday, von der Leyen refused to approve any of the status reports on the 15 biggest projects, the ministry said. Germany has canceled the last tranche of its Eurofighter order, representing a cut by 37 to 143 in total, Social Democrat defense spokesman Rainer Arnold said by phone today, citing the Defense Ministry.

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