Promises made, promises kept. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had sworn to French President François Hollande after the 13th November terrorist attacks in Paris that she would act “quickly” against the terrorist threat. Two weeks later her defence minister, Ursula von der Leyden, confirmed that the German military will deploy to support the French aeronautical group currently in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We can supply three components: protection, reconnaissance and logistics. The protection of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier could be ensured by a frigate, reconnaissance by a satellite and Tornado aircraft, and logistics with refuelling aircraft,” von der Leyden said yesterday, 26th November. Backed by the two principal political groups in the Bundestag (parliament), the defence minister’s proposal should easily be approved by a majority of parliamentarians, essential for any military action undertaken by Germany.
Six Panavia Tornados, most certainly the ECR (electronic combat/reconnaissance) variants will undertake the reconnaissance flights, according to weekly Der Spiegel. They will undertake missions in Syrian and Iraqi airspace from a base in Turkey.
Once approved by the Bundestag, this reconnaissance mission will be the first for the Luftwaffe (German air force) since its last deployment in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010. The in-flight refuelling will be done by one of the Luftwaffe’s four Airbus MRTTs (Multi Role Tanker Transport). Finally, the naval mission will be undertaken by one of the three air defence “Saschen” class frigates.
Germany is already engaged in the anti-ISIS coalition. About 100 Bundeswehr (German army) soldiers are currently deployed at the “Kurdistan Training Coordination Centre” in camp Bnaslawa (at Erbil in northern Iraq) training Peshmerga and Yezidi combatants. This contingent will soon be reinforced. In October 2015 Germany had also supplied more than 1,800 tonnes of equipment for local fighters.
“We must join the action against terrorism,” the German Chancellor said on Wednesday, adding that she wanted Germany “to be even more involved in the fight against Daech in Syria and in Iraq.” Promise kept? We’ll see once the motion has been adopted by the Bundestag.