Heading East (again)

imagery.jpgWhen it comes to war, German efficiency certainly isn’t what it once was. NATO may have asked the German government in December to provide alliance forces in Afghanistan with airborne reconnaissance assets, but it’s taken until now to clear the hurdles.

First the coalition government was slow come to agreement, formally asking parliament in early February to approve sending Tornado reconnaissace aircraft. Parliament took until March 9 to give its go ahead, and then the courts got involved. 

But now, Germany’s federal constitutional court has effectively given the green light to the deployment of German air force Tornado reconnaissance aircraft to
Afghanistan. 

The court has struck down an emergency case brought by two of
Germany’s left wing parties to block the deployment, which had been okayed by Parliament on March 9. 

The court ruled that allowing the deployment to proceed wouldn’t harm the main issue the plaintiffs have raised, namely that NATO is being transformed from a defensive to an offensive alliance with its leadership of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and that therefore Germany’s participation is unconstitutional. That issue will be reviewed in an April 18 hearing. 

The German air force has already dispatched a first contingent of about 40  persons to Afghanistan, to prepare the deployment to Masar-e-Sharif. The Luftwaffe wants at least six operational reconnaissance Tornados, and may send eight aircraft to give it adequate spars. All aircraft belong to the 51st reconnaissance squadron.

The German military planners hope the Tornados will be operational mid-month, despite the delay.

The reconnaissance system doesn’t provide the much prized real-time data NATO forces are really interested in. So forces will have to wait several hours before they can review what snaps the Tornados have actually taken.

Transport operations using Ilyushin Il-76s are already underway to get the support equipment in place for the deployment. Two of the freighters are flying daily for the squadron’s base at Jagel, in northern Germany, to
Afghanistan.

il76-for-luftwaffe.jpg

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