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NATO Positions Itself Against Russia in Baltics and Turkey, but Hits Deployment Snags

Dec. 29, 2015 (EIRNS)—NATO is ramping up its deployments against Russia in both Turkey and the Baltics but is running into problems involving Germany in both cases. A Spanish government official told Defense News yesterday, that Spain will keep its Patriot batteries in Turkey for another year, until Dec. 31, 2016. The United States and Germany have already withdrawn the batteries that both countries deployed to Turkey in 2013. To replace those, NATO is considering deployment of the Samp/T air/anti-missile defense system of the Italian army. The US has also offered to maintain an Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer in the Black Sea on a constant basis.

These developments follow the announcement that NATO was sending AWACS surveillance planes to Turkey, also as part of "enhancing" Turkish air defense against Russia. Though a NATO asset, the AWACS planes are based in Geilinkirchen, Germany, and about 30 percent of the personnel assigned to the AWACS units are Germans. Therefore, some members of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower parliamentary house, believe that German lawmakers should have a vote on the deployment, something that, so far, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has considered unnecessary.

"The government must immediately inform parliament of the details of this deployment, in particular what missions will be assigned to these planes and the destination of any data they collect,"

Tobias Lindner, the Green Party’s head of defence matters, demanded in German daily Bild. Sahra Wagenknecht, vice president of radical left party Die Linke, called the mission "highly dangerous" and also demanded a vote in the Bundestag. The head of the Bundestag’s defense committee, Social Democrat Wolfgang Hellmich, noted that the announcement of the deployment came while the Bundestag was out of session, calling the timing "a bit curious."

In the Baltics, the German air force is to station five Eurofighter Typhoon jets at the Amari air base in Estonia to take part in NATO’s air-policing mission in the Baltics, in what is presented as "strengthening NATO air presence in the eastern Baltic Sea." These fighters will patrol the airspace over the three Baltic republics and "protect" them against the Russian air force. However: protection needs ammunition, and here, the German air force runs short of radar-guided missiles of the AMRAAM (advanced medium-range air-to-air missile) type, of which each of the 109 Eurofighters in the German Luftwaffe is to be equipped. Germany has only 82 AMRAAMs—just enough for 41 jets.

And not even all of the 109 Eurofighters are in good shape: portrayed officially as the "best combat fighter in the world," the jets keep making headlines with lost screws and other technical flaws that keep aircraft on the ground—the latest evidence coming from a Defense Ministry report published mid-November in response to parliamentary queries. Among other factors, the "black zero" policy of the chief budget-cutter of the nation, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who released funds for the purchase of the jets but not for their munitions, is to blame.

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