On the heels of Heckler & Koch announcing their suit against the German government regarding statements about the company’s G36 assault rifle, comes news that the German court in Koblenz has issued a statement that the German gun manufacturer cannot be blamed for any problems the rifles may have, as the rifles were delivered conforming to government specifications. From Der Spiegel:
In the first assessment Richter Volckmann shared this view. He criticized the Bundeswehr sharp that you have the so-called “technical delivery” (TL) is not changed after the precision defects had been discovered. “If the requirements have changed to the gun, then they would have to make improvements,” he said in the direction of the three lawyers who represented the Ministry at Koblenz process.
For von der Leyen, the process is tricky. Away from the question about the contract criticized the judge’s political decision to phase out the G36, instead of negotiating with the manufacturer on a rework on the weapon.Heckler & Koch offered thus in 2015 a design change at the G36 for 600 euros per weapon. Several times they met to the Bundeswehr. Von der Leyen, however, spontaneously decided to break off the talks. Media effect, it ordered the end for the G36.
“The troops have to make do with the gun,” the judge said at the end of the trial, “the soldiers fighting with the G36 partly for their lives”.Consequently, the improvement would have been a “sensible way”. The Minister, he accused even to endanger its soldiers knowingly. “It can not be that the soldiers with a disabled gun against the Taliban need to defend,” he said, referring to the Afghanistan mission the Bundeswehr .
Political explosive force
The phrase has explosive force. Although there is to date no complaints of soldiers from the combat missions with the G36. Even the suspicion, however, that the Minister their troops not equipped to properly or hazards accepts the fact is a huge problem for Befehlshaberin von der Leyen. Your opponents even joked after her Ausmusterbefehl she wanted to get rid of the annoying G36 affair only rapidly. But the criticism also comes from a judge.
The delegation of the Defense Ministry left Koblenz alarmed accordingly, takes Berlin was informed of the criticism of the Minister. A little later her house announced that it would soon publish new studies, they should again confirm the accuracy deficiencies. What is unpleasant is that the auditor also tested the next flights from Heckler & Koch G36 repaired version. She shoots, according to the report, in fact much more accurate – even in heated combat scenarios.
Upon request by SPIEGEL ONLINE said the Ministry that the sharp criticism of the judge did not apply. A spokesman pointed out that they had arranged a so-called Waffenmix very early to better protect soldiers in dangerous foreign missions to increase the firepower in possible battles, this order has been updated several times. Nevertheless, the words of the judge expected to rekindle the political debate of von der Leyen handling of the affair.
The reason why H&K would not be at fault even if their rifles are exhibiting problems requires some explanation. Heckler and Koch has been delivering G36 rifles since 1996; since 2010 major complaints about the rifle’s accuracy began to surface. Despite this, the Bundeswehr ordered more G36 rifles since 2010, and did not request improvements at that time. This means fault lies not with H&K, but with the Bundeswehr for ordering rifles that conformed to their requirements, and then later essentially blaming the manufacturer for not conforming to standards exceeding those requirements.
For Defense Minister von der Leyen specifically, her comment that the G36 “has no future with the Bundeswehr” have backfired upon her: In short, if the rifle doesn’t measure up, it is the Ministry’s fault, not H&K’s. Beyond that, the manufacturer offered to fix any rifles that had problems for €600 per, an offer von der Leyen rejected. Quoth Der Spiegel:
Folglich wäre die Nachbesserung ein “vernünftiger Weg” gewesen. Der Ministerin warf er sogar vor, ihre Soldaten wissentlich zu gefährden.
Translated: Consequently, the improvement would have been a “judicious route [to have taken].” The minister can thus be accused of having knowingly put soldiers in danger. [emphasis mine]
Thanks to Tritro29 for pointing me towards the Spiegel article, and thanks to Mike for his help understanding the German text!