US suggests Boeing alternative amid A400M transport woes

Kurt Volker, the US ambassador to NATO, on Tuesday suggested Germany could use a Boeing military transport plane to solve its heavy lift needs instead of the troubled A400M programme.

US suggests Boeing alternative amid A400M transport woes
Photo: DPA

“The American C-17 programme is open to all nations,” Volker said in Berlin, referring to Boeing’s Globemaster cargo aircraft.

European aviation company EADS in September was forced to postpone the maiden flight for the A400M indefinitely due to technical problems. The C-17 can carry double the load than the A400M, but it also costs twice as much as the European plane.

However, Volker said “a rather creative way” for Berlin to finance the craft would be for Germany to opt to lease the Boeing planes instead of purchasing them outright.

The German military currently is taking part in the NATO programme SALIS (Strategic Air Lift Interim Solution) until the A400M is ready for takeoff. SALIS has two Russian-made Antonov AN 124-100 cargo planes stationed at an airstrip near Leipzig that are ready for use within 72 hours for any of the countries participating in the programme.


Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden

The German government on Friday welcomed a decision by President Joe Biden to put on hold plans to reduce US troops in Germany, saying their presence was in the countries' mutual interest.

Germany welcomes US troop withdrawal freeze under Biden
An American soldier stationed in Germany, in front of Dresden's Military History Museum in 2016. Photo: DPA

“We have always been convinced that American troops being stationed here in Germany serves European and transatlantic security and hence is in our mutual interest,” German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters.

As part of a major foreign and security policy overhaul presented Thursday, Biden announced a freeze on plans set in motion by his predecessor Donald Trump to reduce the US troop presence in Germany, a cornerstone of NATO security since the start of the Cold War.

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US president mean for Germany?

Trump's decision was seen as linked to his tense relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his frequent complaints that Europe's top economy spent too little on defence.

The United States has had US troops stationed in Germany since World War II but their numbers have declined since the fall of the Berlin Wall from some 200,000 soldiers in 1990 to 34,500 today.

Although the prospect had been looming for years, Trump's decision in July to redeploy 12,000 soldiers from Germany still came as a shock, particularly to towns that have built strong economic and cultural ties to the US military.

READ ALSO: Trump to withdraw 'thousands of US soldiers from Germany' under Biden

“We strongly value the close, decades-long cooperation with the American troops stationed in Germany,” Seibert said.

He said the communities hosting GIs appreciated their presence, calling the bases “part of the lived transatlantic friendship”.  

Seibert said German officials were in “consultations” with the US administration about “further planning” but that the decision how to shape the future American military footprint in Europe was a “US domestic issue”.