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7 Jan, 2024 16:10

German military worried about 'suspicious drones' – BILD

The country's armed forces cannot deal with the UAVS, which have been observed for more than a year, the newspaper has revealed
German military worried about 'suspicious drones' – BILD

The German military has been reporting “suspicious” drone sightings over their bases, including facilities used to train Ukrainian troops, the Bild tabloid reported on Sunday.

German officials have blamed the incidents on Russia, while failing to obtain any evidence shedding light on the situation, the paper added.

The first sightings were in October 2022, Bild said, adding that General Carsten Breuer, then head of the Bundeswehr Homeland Defense Command, ordered military police to use anti-commercial drone jammers against the intruders. The measure appeared to be ineffective, Bild said, adding that the small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) continued to hover over the German bases while “nothing more happened in terms of the drone defense.”

The UAVs have been seen repeatedly over bases used to train Ukrainian soldiers, according to Bild. “Drones are regularly spotted over the Klietz military training facility, where the Bundeswehr teaches Ukrainians to [use] Leopard 1 [main battle tanks],” Marcus Faber, a German parliamentary Defense Committee member, who was briefed on the issue, told the tabloid.

According to Faber, several drones were spotted over a single base at the same time, on more than one occasion. “This is clearly organized and strongly points to Russia,” the lawmaker claimed. According to Bild, the German military shares such suspicions, but has no evidence to prove them.

The Bundeswehr has so far failed to shoot down a single one of the drones or track down its operator, Faber told the paper, citing Nils Hilmer, the Defense Ministry’s state secretary – an official responsible for communicating the ministry’s position to lawmakers.

The German Armed Forces established a special task force to combat the drone threat only around a year after the first reported sightings – on November 15, 2023, Bild said. Two months later, no tangible results have been achieved, as the new unit first needed the necessary permissions from the Interior Ministry.

The developments have sparked a wave of criticism from MPs. Andreas Schwarz, a Bundestag Budget Committee member, who oversees Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s €100 billion ($109.58 billion) fund aimed at strengthening the Bundeswehr, argued that the military should have acted faster.

“It cannot be the case that the Inspector General discovers that there is a massive problem with drones and then nothing happens for a year,” the MP said, adding that Germany “must not allow Russia to spy on military training facilities… as we are tangled up in an authority mess.”

Another Budget and Finance Committee member, Sebastian Schaefer, slammed the military for the absence of a drone defense strategy. “We need it urgently,” he said. Faber also told Bild that the MPs “need the results from the task force in the next few months.”

Neither Russia nor Ukraine have commented on the developments so far.