PARIS --- Germany’s Court of Audit has recommended scrapping an order for 680 PARS-3LR missiles after the newly-developed weapon performed badly during an initial operational trial, the German website Capital.de reported on Tuesday.
Citing a confidential report of the Bundesrechnunghof, the Federal Court of Audit, the website said that the new anti-tank missiles suffer from significant deficiencies, and are described as "technically obsolete" and "not very accurate."
Ordered in 2006 at a cost of 418.8 million euros for 680 missiles, the PAR 3 missile’s development goes back to the beginning of the 1990s, when France and the UK pulled out of the TRIGAT Long-Range missile that was being jointly developed to replace the HOT as the main weapon of the Tiger attack helicopter.
At the time, the Bundesrechnungshof had warned about the development risks and instead recommended Germany buy off-the-shelf and much cheaper missiles such as the US-made Hellfire II to arm the Tiger, Capital reported.
The interim report of the Court of Audit now sharply criticizes the Ministry of Defense for having ignored for years all warnings - even those coming from the troops themselves. According to the report, the Bundeswehr even waived a planned deployment test before the manufacturing companies MBDA and Diehl commissioned series production in 2013. Instead, the Ministry was content with little meaningful evidence of industry, a process that the auditors complain was highly irregular.
Delays and quality defects
At the same time, the project also had serious problems on the industrial side. For example, the missile deployment test planned for 2014 also had to be postponed several times - partly because of "massive quality defects at the start of serial production", but also because no helicopters were available for that, as the Court of Auditors reported.
Accordingly, the PARS-3 manufacturers MBDA and Diehl delivered the first missiles from mass production only at the end of 2015 - more than five years later than planned.
However, according to the Bundeswehr, an extraordinary termination of the contract was not possible - also because it failed to set contractors a reasonable grace period with a threat of refusal, the Court of Auditors writes in its latest report. Overall, alternatives such as a project termination were "not consistently" pursued.
In fact, the deployment test of the missiles took place only in 2018. At this time, according to the Court of Auditors, more than half of the 680 missiles ordered had already been delivered.
In the multi-mission test, which was carried out at the request of the German Army in a high-temperature climate zone, at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the missiles had a "high number of misses," write the auditors citing internal Bundeswehr documentation. Many missiles "lost their assigned target after firing and selected a new target," which would endanger friendly troops, allied forces and civilians in the target area. Overall, the hit rate of the PARS-3 rockets in White Sands was only 16 percent, and in the twelve tested scenarios, the missile only passed the requirements in a single one.
The Ministry of Defense declined to comment an interim report, and referred to the ongoing opposition proceedings. A confidential response to the draft report was made in July, a ministry spokesman said, and the Court of Audit will now prepare its final report.
The content of the opinion can therefore not be commented on at this stage.
Capital reported that unspecified experts believe the ministry does not share the conclusions of the auditors on important points.