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G36 rifle 'has no future' in German army

The Local · 22 Apr 2015, 12:55

Published: 22 Apr 2015 09:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 22 Apr 2015 12:55 GMT+02:00

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Matthias Gebauer, chief correspondent for Spiegel, tweeted von der Leyen's comments from a meeting of the parliamentary defence committee.

In recent weeks the Defence Ministry had admitted that the rifle, which the Bundeswehr has used since the mid-1990s, has “accuracy problems,” specifically a loss of accuracy when the rifle gets hot - either due to the air temperature or sustained firing.

Von der Leyen had come under sustained pressure to come clean on how much the Defence ministry knew about the weapon's failings

Earlier on Wednesday the Green party threatened the defence ministry with the setting up of a parliamentary investigation, if von der Leyen didn't “fully explain” the accuracy problems of the G36 at a defence committee meeting.

“If von der Leyen doesn't finally bring clarity to the disastrous behaviour of the Defence Ministry over the G36, then an an investigative committee will have to explain these failures,” said Anton Hofreiter, leader of the Green party.

Hofreiter criticised attempts by the defence ministry over years to hide the weapon's problems.

“It reveals not only the well documented management disaster at the heart of the ministry, but also an irresponsible failure of the duty to protect our soldiers.”

The G36 has been the standard rifle of the Bundesweher (German Army) since the mid nineties and was used on operation in Afghanistan for over a decade.

De Maizière knew about deficiencies

Newly revealed documents show that Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière knew about the problems with the Bundeswehr's (German army) standard rifle, the G36, three years ago while serving as Defence Minister.

In what could prove to be a huge controversy for one of Germany's most senior politicians, the Süddeutsche Zeitung revealed on Wednesday that during his time as Defence Minister de Maizière of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) was made aware of serious problems with the G36.

The broadsheet reports that de Maizière saw a “significant portion” of the information which has led the current defence minister Ursula von der Leyen to reconsider the rifle's use.

The documents which were signed by de Maizière detail tests conducted at the end of 2012 which show “a considerable deficiency” in the weapons accuracy that is of “substantial operational relevance.”

Story continues below…

Although rumours have previously circulated that defence officials have tried to cover up problems with the weapon, this is the first time evidence has arisen that a senior politician knew of the rifle's shortcomings and did not act upon the information.

The documents also show that critical assessments of what the weapon's deficiencies could mean for soldiers on operation were changed.

A paragraph from one document questioning whether the weapon was adequate to be used on operation was changed a few weeks later to describe it as “fundamentally suitable.”


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