Air Force (Bundeswehr)

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air force

Bundeswehr Logo Luftwaffe with lettering.svg
Lineup January 9, 1956
Country GermanyGermany Germany
Armed forces emblem armed forces
Type Armed forces
( air forces )
structure Internal association badge of the Luftwaffe command Air Force Command
ZentrLuftOp Air Force Center Air Operations
Coat of arms LwTrKdo.svg Air Force Command
Strength Active soldiers : 27,564 (June 2020) of
which women: 2,334
Insinuation Badge of the Armed Forces Command Staff General Inspector of the Bundeswehr
Headquarters Command Air Force Berlin-Gatow
Air Force Inspector Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz
Deputy Air Force Inspector Lieutenant General Ansgar Rieks
Aircraft cockade Roundel of Germany - Type 1 - Border.svg
National emblem ( vertical stabilizer ) Flag of Germany.svg
Swing arm COA Luftwaffe Schwinge.svg

As Air Force are German air forces designated. It is next to the army and navy an armed force the Bundeswehr .


Founding years

Defense Minister Blank visits the Air Force
Air Force F-84F Thunderstreak around 1960
Nike Hercules at the NATO anniversary parade
F-104 of JG 74 in formation flight

The first volunteers of the Luftwaffe, which was sometimes known colloquially as the Federal Air Force, began their service in January 1956 in Nörvenich in the Air Force Training Company. In the same year, numerous offices were set up and the Air Force received its first aircraft. A particular challenge was to compensate for the lack of expertise in building a modern air force. In the ten-year period since the end of the Second World War , the principles of command and logistical supply of air forces had changed considerably , primarily through the extensive use of jet aircraft and anti-aircraft missile systems , as well as the focus on the use of nuclear weapons .

The Luftwaffe's forces were initially commanded by the two air force groups, North and South, which in alignment with the NATO structure with the British-influenced 2nd  and US-American 4th Allied Tactical Air Force (ATAF) , whose areas of responsibility are north and north respectively south of an imaginary line between Aachen and Kassel . The General Air Force Office, later renamed the Air Force Office , was responsible for central tasks.

In 1957 the Luftwaffe's service areas began to grow. In Rendsburg, parts of the army anti-aircraft troops were taken over, from which the air defense (rocket) troops emerged, the air transport wing 61 was set up in Erding as the first flying unit and the fighter bomber wing 31 in Nörvenich as the first combat unit. In 1958 the first conscripts were drafted into the air force, one year later the armed forces took part with the first missile formation (Missile Group 11 in Kaufbeuren ) with the tactical, atomically equipped missile Matador 1958 and the first fighter unit, the Jagdgeschwader 71 in Ahlhorn with Canadair F-86 Saber , take shape. The air force of the Federal Republic consisted of the air force and parts of the navy ; from 1956 the formation of the West German naval aviators began .

On October 22, 1959, two Luftwaffe F-84F fighter planes crashed on a training flight in Czechoslovakia , see: Fighter Bomber Squadron 34 .

1960 began the training of the first pilots on the Lockheed F-104 ; in the same year the first "starfighters" were taken over into service. The era of this weapon system in the Air Force did not end until 1991 with the “last flight” of an F-104 at Manching airfield . Procurement circumstances, deficiencies in the introduction and a series of crashes led to the Starfighter affair in West Germany in the mid-1960s . As a Lockheed scandal , the problematic aircraft also preoccupied politics and the public in other countries.

The first major reclassification

In 1963 the Luftwaffe was completely reorganized for the first time. The two air force group commands north and south were each assigned two cross-sectional divisions and one support division. Concerned that the units in the north - especially in Schleswig-Holstein  - would be cut off in the event of an attack by the Warsaw Pact , the 7th Air Force Division was set up, which practically represented a small air force within the Air Force due to the range of its subordinate units.

After numerous personnel had been trained in the USA since 1956, the Air Force intensified its commitment there from 1966. The German Air Force Training Command USA / Canada at Fort Bliss in El Paso , Texas , later the German Air Force Command USA / Canada , was set up, the Air Force missile school as a training facility for the personnel of the anti-aircraft missile and missile troops was relocated to the same location and the basic flying training was also relocated performed in the USA from 1966. Around 1960, planning began to set up an air force training command in Beja in southern Portugal, but this never had the same significance as the facilities in the USA. It was disbanded in the early 1990s.

The losses of material and people that occurred within a few years when using the Air Force's first generation of jets were significantly higher than with the Starfighter; Almost 300 total losses were recorded among these models at the beginning of 1966.

Positioning for the next 20 years - a new air force structure

The year 1967 marked the beginning of a new reclassification phase for the Air Force, which lasted until 1970. With the adoption of the new air force structure, the command of the task forces with the newly created air fleet command was to come from a single source from 1970. The two air force groups north and south were dissolved and four air force divisions were reclassified into pure air attack and air defense divisions. The air transport command with the air transport squadrons, the air force command service with the telecommunications regiments of the telecommunication service , the radar command service and the telecommunications electronic reconnaissance , and the air force training command with the general schools and training regiments were subordinated to the Air Force Office . Which has also been reorganized Air Force Support Command , which emerged with the two from the support divisions Air Force Support Group Command North and South, and the material Office of the Air Force for the entire logistics, including maintenance and -setzung , and their training was responsible.

From the late 1960s to the 1980s, various weapon systems were introduced into the Air Force, some of which are still in existence today. In 1968 the first C-160 Transall was delivered and in 1974 it was converted to the McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantom II , initially with Jagdgeschwader 71 . Also in 1974 the first flight of the tornado , which was introduced into the troops from 1981, took place. Both aircraft replaced the F-104. The Alpha Jet was introduced in 1978 and in 1985 planning began for the "Jäger 90" project, which decades later resulted in the Eurofighter . The anti-aircraft missile troops also received new weapon systems. The Nike Hercules were decommissioned and the first PATRIOT systems were introduced in 1986 and the first Roland systems in 1987 . Towards the end of the Cold War, more than 100,000 soldiers served in the Air Force.

Merger of the two German air forces

German MiG-29 firing a Wympel R-27 missile
Alpha Jet of JaboG 49
F-4F Phantom

With the reunification in 1990, the Air Force - like the two other branches of the armed forces - faced massive challenges. The integration of the soldiers of the National People's Army (NVA) of the GDR had to take place under high time pressure - against the background of the changed threat and financial situation - with a simultaneous reduction in personnel and weapon systems.

The former members of the GDR air force who were accepted into the Bundeswehr were prepared for service in the air force with various courses. In order to support the dissolution of the former air force / air defense and the takeover of the infrastructure and weapon systems as well as the integration of the eastern federal states into the air defense of Germany and NATO, the Air Force set up the 5th Air Force Division in Strausberg (Eggersdorf) . This was relocated to Berlin-Gatow in 1994 and renamed the 3rd Air Force Division. In 1995 the air force units in the new federal states were subordinated to NATO.

The adoption of the so-called air force structure 4 also meant considerable changes for the associations and services in the western federal states. Measures for the reclassification included the transfer of the air fleet command to the air force command command while at the same time subordinating the air force command service command, the air transport command and the newly established two air force commands north and south with air force divisions reclassified into cross-sectional large formations.

With the phasing out of the Pershing weapon system , a service area of ​​the Air Force was omitted, with the disarmament of the Alpha Jet (until 1997) three fighter-bomber squadrons were disbanded.

Unfinished: Air Force Structures 5 and 6

Beginning in 2001, the Air Force was again massively reorganized as part of the adoption of Air Force Structure 5. This phase was characterized by regionalization and centralization. With the dissolution of the Air Force Commandos North and South, the Air Force divisions were given more responsibility. The combat units were assigned to them in such a way that the greatest possible regional connection existed. In the area of ​​operational support, many tasks were centralized and handed over by the Air Force to the newly established organizational areas of the Armed Forces Base and Central Medical Service .

In 2004, a new era began for the Air Force when Jagdgeschwader 73 began training flight operations with the Eurofighter, which was initially to replace the MiG-29 and Phantom F-4F and later parts of the Tornado fleet.

Even before the completion of all measures of Air Force Structure 5, the Air Force switched to taking Air Force Structure 6 in 2005. Among other things, with the dissolution of the air transport command in 2010 , the German Armed Forces transferred competencies to the multinational European Air Transport Command . This air force structure, too, was ultimately overtaken by new reform efforts before it was fully implemented.

Since 2007, the Air Force has been participating in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan, including through reconnaissance from the air . Until 2010, tornadoes were used for this purpose , and since 2010 exclusively unmanned aircraft .

Realignment of the Bundeswehr

Eurofighter 30 + 68 with special paint "60 years of the Luftwaffe" (2016)

The realignment of the Bundeswehr , which was initiated in 2010, led to fundamental changes in the Air Force. This becomes particularly clear in the complete restructuring of the command organization with the elimination of the Air Force command staff in the Federal Ministry of Defense . On October 1, 2012, the Luftwaffe command in the General Steinhoff barracks in Berlin-Gatow was taken into service. On June 26, 2013, were Air Force Command and the Air Force Office and the subordinate commands at a divisional level as before the Air Force divisions , the Air Force Weapon Systems Command and the Air Force Training Command dissolved. At the same time, the were the center of air operations of the Air Force , the command task forces Air Force and the Command Support Associations Air Force reorganized.

There were also considerable changes in the technical and logistical associations and departments as well as in the task forces. This resulted primarily from the reduced personnel ceiling of the Air Force and the establishment of lower scopes of the main weapon systems. Cross-armed forces aspects of the restructuring were the takeover of the helicopters of the type CH-53 from the army with simultaneous surrender of the NH90 and the merging of the anti-aircraft and anti-aircraft missile forces after the dissolution of the army anti-aircraft force .

On April 1, 2014, the Bundeswehr Aviation Office was reorganized in Cologne-Wahn, which was operational at the end of 2014. As an independent office, it reports directly to the Federal Ministry of Defense. Since the Air Force provided a large part of the approx. 500 employees, personnel was required to operate the so-called light utility helicopter at the helicopter squadron 64 from 2015 and since further organizational adjustments were recognized in the armed forces, the first major correction of the measures introduced by the Realignment. This became apparent, among other things, in the renewed restructuring of the command organization of the Air Force: In mid-2015, the two commandos, operational and support units of the Air Force, were dissolved and replaced by the new joint air force command . This should also ensure that the specified number of posts will be achieved by the end of 2016.

On April 4, 2018, the German anti-aircraft missile group 61 in Todendorf (Panker) was subordinated to the Dutch Defensie Grondgebonden Luchtverdedigingscommando (DGLC) ( German  ground-based air defense command ).

Mission and tasks

The air force brings the special abilities of air forces to the fulfillment of the order of the armed forces .

In this context, she is responsible for monitoring and protecting the airspace over Germany. To this end, sovereign air tasks are performed by the hunting and operational command associations even in peace . It has forces ready that can be used in conflicts and wars for combat and operational support of military operations by the army and navy and for combating strategically important targets from the air. The air transport associations in particular contribute to humanitarian aid and peace missions of the United Nations and to national evacuation missions.

Service areas

Anti-aircraft missile system PATRIOT
RRP 117 radar on the Großer Arber

The air force can be subdivided into the following service areas in the same way as the armed forces :

Organization and leadership

The then Federal Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière (center) in conversation with US Colonel David Krumm (to the right of de Maizière). Other participants from the front left: Hasso Körtge , Hans-Werner Fritz , Aarne Kreuzinger-Janik , front right: Frank Kiesel and Heinz-Josef Ferkinghoff .
Structure of the Air Force in March 2020

At the head of the Air Force is the Air Force Inspector in Air Force Command . As the superior of his armed forces on duty, he reports to the inspector general of the Bundeswehr . The Luftwaffe is subdivided below the Luftwaffe command into the Luftwaffe air operations center in Kalkar and the Luftwaffe troop command with its headquarters in the Wahn air force barracks in Cologne .

Center air operations


The Luftwaffe's air operations center is located at the Kalkar / Uedem site ( Von-Seydlitz-Kaserne ) and emerged from the Air Force Operational Command . The center is entrusted with tasks related to the planning of air operations. This means that the Air Force-specific tasks of conducting operations by the Air Force, national tasks to be carried out in Germany (including tasks of the previous offices of the National Air Defense Command Center, Space Situation Center, Air Force Command Center) are combined in an Air Force Operations Center. An “Air Intelligence Center” in the sense of a competence center for air and space-specific intelligence matters is set up in the center of air operations for the sustained performance of the tasks of the military intelligence system for the tactical-operational level. In addition, the tasks of providing a NATO headquarters for the planning and management of air operations in the event of an emergency are integrated into the Air Operations Center.

Subordinate associations / departments

see also: National Situation and Command Center for Safety in Airspace

Air Force Command


All operations and support units of the Air Force are subordinate to the Air Force Command. It ensures that fully trained and equipped air forces are available for missions and is also responsible for their further development. However, it has no mandate for the operational management of its subordinate forces. This would be done by multinational command posts of NATO or the EU or, in the case of a national deployment, by the Air Operations Center. Even in peace, parts of the associations are assigned to NATO. However, this is Operations Command solely responsible as executive management level of the Bundeswehr for national transfers to the contingent leader in the areas of deployment.

Subordinate associations / departments

The following are directly subordinate to the command for the fulfillment of the order:

The air force command consists of the three skill areas of air (flying units), ground (ground-based units) and support (support units).


Rank badge Oberfeldwebel of the Luftwaffe


The Air Force has a staff of around 28,000 soldiers and is therefore the second largest armed force after the Army . All careers and assignments are also open to female soldiers if they are suitable for the intended position.

Since the high degree of mechanization in many areas often requires a corresponding specialization and extensive professional qualification, the proportion of NCOs and officers in the airborne units is very high.

According to the realignment of the Bundeswehr announced by Federal Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière in 2011 , the number of military posts (i.e. excluding the soldiers who are in training) in the Air Force should be reduced to a maximum of 23,000. Of these, 22,050 should be professional / temporary soldiers and between 500 and 950 volunteer military service (FWD).

By Ursula von der Leyen proclaimed 2016 "turnaround staff" includes a departure from the previously provided for in the realignment personal limits. On June 30, 2018, there were 23,190 posts, 80.4% of which were occupied.

Civilian personnel

In a few years the number of civil servants will be 5,950 civil servants and employees . A large number of these forces are used, for example, in repair work and in the fire service. Civilian personnel have the advantage over military personnel that they have a higher availability (skilled working time) in the respective area of ​​responsibility. In contrast to soldiers, he does not have numerous military-specific or career-related training and further education measures with long periods of absence.

Ranks / uniform

Collar tabs of the Air Force soldiers

The designations of the ranks are identical to those of the Army branch.

The field suit of the Air Force and Army is basically identical. Stylized wings are attached to the rank badges in field suits, instead of the colored strands that are customary in the army.

The Luftwaffe service suit is dark blue with golden yellow collar tabs . A blue boat or a blue peaked cap is worn as headgear . A dark blue beret is only provided for the property security personnel . This is also worn by the Air Force uniforms in the guard battalion at the Federal Ministry of Defense .


The basic training of air force personnel is carried out by the air force training battalion at the Roth and Germersheim locations . The training of the next generation of management takes place at the NCO School of the Air Force in Appen or Heide and the Officer School of the Air Force in Fürstenfeldbruck .

Air force officers of the troop service study like the officers of the other branches of the armed forces as a rule at one of the two universities of the Bundeswehr , officers of the military service attend the technical school of the air force in Faßberg .

The Air Force maintains central training facilities and associations for the technical training of its personnel. Aircraft technicians and air traffic control personnel are trained at the Technical Training Center of the Air Force South Dept. in Kaufbeuren, and helicopter technicians at the Technical Training Center of the Air Force North Dept. in Faßberg. The training of the personnel of the operational command service takes place in the operational command area 2 in Erndtebrück , that of the personnel of the anti-aircraft missile service at the tactical training and further training center for air defense missiles in Fort Bliss in Texas .

Aviation service personnel first undergo basic training together with the 3rd German Air Force Training Squadron at the Airline Training Center Arizona in Goodyear , Arizona . Subsequently, jet pilots are transferred to the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) at Sheppard AFB , Wichita Falls in Texas and weapons system officers to the 2nd German Air Force Training Squadron at Pensacola in Florida . In autumn 2017, flight training for the tornado at Holloman AFB was discontinued and relocated to Tactical Air Force Wing 51 in Jagel. Prospective Eurofighter pilots acquire the type rating on their future fighter aircraft after participating in the ENJJPT with the Tactical Air Force Wing 73 in Laage.

Helicopter pilots receive their basic training at the international helicopter training center in Bückeburg . Transport aircraft pilots first undergo basic aeronautical training at the 4th / Lufttransportgeschwader 62 in Bremen, which works together with Lufthansa Flight Training GmbH. The 3rd season of LTG 62, which had carried out the course-related practical and training since the introduction of the Transall, was released from this mandate. The training is now taking place at Lufttransportgeschwader 63 at Hohn Air Base .

The training of the crews and technicians for the A400M takes place together with France. The pilots receive their type rating in Wunstorf , where the technicians are also trained. The tactical training of the pilots follows in Orléans .

The command authority, which is responsible for the relevant training facility, is responsible for controlling the course-related training; the tactical, role-specific training is the responsibility of the task forces.


Panavia Tornado IDS (ASSTA 3)
Eurofighter Typhoon
Airbus A400M
C-160D Transall

Since it was set up, the Air Force has mainly used equipment that was developed in multinational cooperation or purchased by NATO countries and / or built under license. An overview of aircraft can be found in the list of aircraft of the Bundeswehr .

Numerous historical exhibits can be viewed in the Military History Museum at Berlin-Gatow Airfield (formerly: Air Force Museum of the Bundeswehr) in Berlin-Gatow .

Weapon systems


The combat units have the Eurofighter as a multi-purpose combat aircraft for use in the air defense (air / air) and air attack (air / ground) role and the Panavia Tornado as a reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber and in the special role of suppressing enemy air defense.

Transport aircraft

The new Airbus A400M for the LTG 62 and the Transall C-160 until 2022 for the LTG 63 are available for air transport .

The flight readiness of the Federal Ministry of Defense uses the models Airbus A340-300 VIP, Airbus A310 , Airbus A321 , Airbus A319 CJ of which an Airbus CJ for "Open Skies" and Bombardier Global 5000/6000 especially for passenger transport. The A310 plays a special role, the MRTT version can also be used as a cargo and tanker aircraft and to transport the wounded and sick.


The Luftwaffe uses the Sikorsky CH-53 in the helicopter squadron 64 for medium transport tasks , the Airbus Helicopters H145M to support special forces and the Eurocopter AS532 (Cougar) in flight readiness for passenger and VIP transport.

Training aircraft

For jet training, the Beechcraft T-6 and the Northrop T-38 are used as training aircraft at Sheppard Air Force Base in the USA .

Unmanned aerial vehicles

Since 2010, the Air Force operates three leased Heron 1 and two ground stations of the manufacturing company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) from Israel . These aircraft are used exclusively in Afghanistan and Mali.

Air defense systems

The weapon systems PATRIOT , MANTIS and Ozelot , which are subordinate to the anti-aircraft missile squadron 1 , are used.

Radar technology

In mission control service several stationary radars are Groundmaster 406F , HADR , RRP 117 and the mobile radar RAT 31DL used. GIADS III has been used since the end of 2010 as the command and weapon deployment system of the Air Force NATO designation: Air Command and Control System (ACCS) .

The new ASR-S ( Aerodrome Surveillance Radar ) is or will be installed for air traffic control on German military airfields . In addition to air traffic control , this radar is also used for air surveillance within a radius of over 100 kilometers (60 NM). The LÜR (air space surveillance radar) is a quickly deployable air defense radar of the air defense group 61 .

Table of weapon systems

Weapon systems origin use Type Number currently comment
Eurofighter Typhoon Germany / UK / Italy / Spain Multipurpose fighter Tranche 1
Tranche 2
Tranche 3A
A total of 143 ordered, 2 of Tranche 2 crashed
Tranche 1 will be replaced by up to 38 newer Eurofighters
Panavia tornado Germany / UK / Italy Combating ground / sea targets, reconnaissance,
fighting hostile. Air defense, electronic reconnaissance
IDS / Recce
Replacements planned with further Eurofighters and 30 F / A-18 Super Hornets and 15 EA-18G Growlers
Transport aircraft
Airbus A400M Europe strategic and tactical transport aircraft
aerial refueling
A400M 33 a total of 53 ordered
Transall C-160 Germany / France tactical transport aircraft C-160D <15 Retirement by 2021,
replacement by A400M
Lockheed Martin C-130J United States tactical transport aircraft
air refueling
3 ordered
3 ordered
Airbus A310 Europe Passenger and VIP transport
Freight and passenger transport / air refueling
A310 PAX

Replacement with 3 A330 MRTT
Airbus A319 Europe Passenger and VIP transport
open skies

Surveillance flights as part of "Open Skies"
Airbus A321 Europe Passenger and VIP transport for
wounded transport (MedEvac)
A321-200 1 2 more planned
Airbus A330 Europe Freight and passenger transport / air refueling A330 MRTT 4 orders
replacement for A310 MRTT
Airbus A340 Europe Passenger and VIP transport A340-313X 2 Replacement by A350-900
Airbus A350 Europe Passenger and VIP transport A350-900 1 2 ordered from 2020
as a replacement for A340
Bombardier Global 5000 Canada Passenger and VIP transport Global 5000 3 originally 4, including 1 total write-off
Bombardier Global 6000 Canada Passenger and VIP transport Global 6000 3
Sikorsky CH-53 United States medium transport tasks CH-53GA
Replacement planned
Eurocopter AS532 France Passenger and VIP transport AS532U2 3
Airbus Helicopters H145M Europe Transport and support of special forces H145M 15th
Training aircraft
Coarse G 120A Germany Pilot training Basic training with the 3rd German Air Force Training Squadron in the USA G-120A 6th Operated by Lufthansa
Beechcraft T-6 United States Pilot training at the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training in the USA T-6 Texan II 69
Northrop T-38 United States Advanced pilot training at the Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training in the USA T-38C 41 originally 46
Unmanned aerial vehicles
IAI Heron Israel enlightenment Heron 1 3 leased
3 more planned
Air defense systems
patriot United States Anti-aircraft missile system 14th
MANTIS Germany Close-range air defense system 2
ocelot Germany Light air defense system 3
Radar systems
Ground Master 406F France / USA Air surveillance radar 6th
HADR United States Air surveillance radar 4th
RRP 117 United States Air surveillance radar 8th
COUNCIL 31DL Italy Air surveillance radar 2 relocatable
LÜR Germany Air surveillance radar relocatable
ASR-S Germany Airfield surveillance radar 17th 20 in total

GIADS III has been used since the end of 2010 as the command and weapon deployment system of the Air Force NATO designation: Air Command and Control System (ACCS) .

Airbus A310-304 (MRTT)
Airbus A340 VIP in readiness for flight

Modernization project

The political controversy before decisions on the development and procurement of large air force equipment is great due to the technical risks and especially the high costs.

In addition to numerous measures to improve operational capability, the projects with the greatest financial scope were or are the ongoing introduction of the Eurofighter as a replacement for the F-4F Phantom as well as for parts of the Tornado fleet and the procurement of the Airbus A400M as a successor model for the C- 160 Transall.


Originally, 180 Eurofighters were to be ordered in three tranches. Of the original 68 Eurofighters in the third and final tranche, only 31 aircraft were ordered as Tranche 3A in July 2009. On June 30, 2019, 138 of 143 ordered Eurofighters were delivered by Airbus. The 33 oldest Eurofighters in Tranche 1 are to be gradually retired over the next few years and replaced by a new Tranche 4, which will then represent the most modern of the European fighter jets. The Eurofighter and the Boeing F / A-18 are available as Tornado successors .

The Military Aviation Strategy 2016 provides that the so-called Future Combat Air System (FCAS, also “Next Generation Weapon System” NGWS) should replace the tornadoes and complement the Eurofighters. It is a "system of systems", which is to be networked with drones and other combat units, satellites and ground stations (see Network-Centric Warfare ). His duties include air interdiction (Air Interdiction (AI)), close air support Close Air Support (CAS), Joint Time Sensitive Targeting (JTST) and Überwasserseekrieg from the air (Anti Surface Warfare (ASUW)). At the Paris Air Show 2019 in Le Bourget, France and Germany signed further contracts for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project, which will replace today's fighter jets from 2040. At the same time, Spain officially joined the FCAS development.

Transport aircraft

Of the 53 A400M transport aircraft ordered, 30 were delivered on June 30, 2019. 40 machines are planned for the Wunstorf site . More A400M will from 2025 Template: future / in 5 yearson the Lechfeld Air Base will be stationed where a multinational unit is targeted. For evacuation operations and for use in smaller places unsuitable for the A400M, the Bundeswehr is planning to purchase six Lockheed C-130 Js, which will be operated jointly with France and stationed in Évreux from 2021 .

The procurement of three Airbus A330 MRTTs is planned to replace the 4 A310MRTT and the A310PAX . These are managed by the Multinational MRTT Unit .

Due to the technical problems with the aircraft of the Airbus A340 type that arose in 2018 during flight readiness, it was announced in January 2019 that three new Airbus A350 aircraft would be purchased from Airbus. Cost point approx. 180 million euros per machine, with conversion and extra equipment approx. 280 million euros per machine.

On June 18, 2019, the budget committee of the German Bundestag took note of the purchase of three Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft for the flight readiness of the Federal Ministry of Defense with a total financial volume of up to 240 million euros. The planes should be ready for use by the end of 2019.


In April 2014 it became known that the German-French project “Future Transport Helicopter” (FTH) will no longer be operated by the partner nations. The Bundeswehr is now considering purchasing either the CH-53K or the CH-47F as the successor to the 66 Sikorsky CH-53 . On February 28, 2019, the BAAINBw opened the tender for the follow-up project STH (Heavy Transport Helicopter). A helicopter with a maximum take-off weight of over 20 tons is required. The procurement of at least 44 and a maximum of 60 helicopters is planned. The launch of the new helicopter is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2031.

Unmanned aerial vehicles

For the signal processing airborne long-range surveillance and reconnaissance (SLWÜA) was the introduction of a high-flying unmanned aerial vehicle - UAV with long range ( HALE ) of the type RQ-4E Euro Hawk with a reconnaissance system (Integrated SIGINT System - ISIS) as a replacement for the separated Breguet Atlantic planned by the Navy. In 2013 the project was abandoned for cost reasons, so only a prototype was purchased.

In place of the RQ-4E, three units of the more modern MQ-4C Triton series are to be purchased (as of 2018) and equipped with the sensors of the RQ-4E. The contract could be signed at the end of 2019. These modified MQ-4C Triton drones will be stationed under the name “Pegasus” (for Persistent German Airborne Surveillance System), presumably from 2025, at Schleswig Air Base, where infrastructure measures to accommodate the machines had already been taken.

On June 13, 2018, the budget committee of the German Bundestag decided to rent five IAI Eitan Heron TPs . The Heron TP is planned as a reconnaissance system for medium altitudes ( Medium Altitude Long Endurance - MALE) as a supplement to the manned aircraft ( Tornado Recce ) and as a successor to the leased Heron 1 reconnaissance drone . Maintenance is carried out by Airbus. The lease runs until 2027 and will cost at least 900 million euros. The machines will initially be used as reconnaissance drones, but they have the option of being armed and used as combat drones.

Air defense systems

After the planned introduction of the anti-aircraft missile system MEADS in October 2011, it was decided in 2015 that the tactical air defense system (TLVS) should be procured for the currently used Patriot system.

Air bases

The Air Force currently has a total of ten active air bases and three civil airports that are used by the military .


Airplane cockade Iron Cross
  • Emblem : The emblem on aircraft and combat vehicles of the Bundeswehr was founded in 1956 by the then Federal President Theodor Heuss , the Iron Cross set. The German flag is also painted on the aircraft.
  • Aircraft registration numbers : The registration numbers of German military aircraft initially consisted of two letters, from the combination of which it was possible to identify the armed forces, the operational area and the squadron, and three digits, which usually resulted from the squadron and the serial number. From 1968 the system was changed so that it was only possible to draw conclusions about the type and serial number of the aircraft. For this purpose, two two-digit number blocks, separated by the iron cross, are used for the aircraft registration numbers. When specifying the license plate, the cross is written as a "+".


The Air Force is involved in all Bundeswehr missions abroad . The main burden is borne by the air transport associations and the BMVg readiness for flight with the relocation of personnel and material of the Bundeswehr and friendly states and the provision of the ability to evacuate the wounded. The property protection force is also represented in almost all operational areas.

In addition, Air Force forces have been and are used within the scope of their respective capabilities:

Air defense

The ensure air superiority over Germany is a continuous operation task of the Air Force. The operational command associations monitor the airspace in cooperation with the neighboring states and the civilian control agencies. Report any irregularities or unusual behavior of an aircraft to your superior command post, which then decides how to proceed. For a closer inspection, an alarm group with two interceptors each is on high alert (QRA (I) - Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor ) in the north (Wittmund) and in the south (Neuburg an der Donau) around the clock, seven days a week )). These hunters can also be used to provide support in air emergencies.

As part of the surveillance of NATO airspace , German hunting groups and soldiers from the operational command service were stationed a total of ten times between 2005 and 2018 to carry out air policing over the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) in Lithuania.

Air transport

Since 1960, the air transport units of the Air Force with their transport planes and helicopters have been deployed several times in every decade in the context of humanitarian aid or disaster relief almost worldwide (for example, Morocco in 1960 (earthquake), Iran in 1962, Algeria in 1965 and 1969, Tunisia in 1969 (flood) , 1973 Sahel zone , 1984 Ethiopia , 1988 Armenia , 1990 Russia, 1991 Iraq ( UNSCOM ), 1992 Somalia ( UNOSOM ), 1992–1996 Bosnia-Herzegovina ( UNPROFOR / IFOR / SFOR ), 1994 Rwanda ( UNAMIR ), 1998 Sudan, 1999 Australia / East Timor ( INTERFET ), 2000 Mozambique ( flood disaster ), 2003 Congo ( Operation Artemis )).

Air transport forces are also deployed to provide administrative assistance and direct support to German citizens. Here the helicopters can make valuable contributions (as in 1962 with the storm surge in Northern Germany , 1978/1979 with the snow chaos in Northern Germany, 1995/1997/2002/2006 with the flood relief). However, fixed-wing aircraft are also used. The C-160 Transall flew with equipment kits (developed as a result of the forest fires of 1975/1976) as fire-fighting aircraft to fight forest and wildfires:

  • 1980 France
  • 1983 in Sardinia / Italy
  • 1983 (near Ehra-Lessien, Lower Saxony) and
  • 1988 (near Voigtei, Lower Saxony)

The flight readiness BMVg supported evacuation operations (for example in 1998 in Eritrea) and brought, among other things, victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster home.


As part of administrative assistance, the reconnaissance squadron supported 51 authorities, for example, in the search for missing people, mass graves from the Second World War or as support in the event of disasters (such as in 2002 after the plane collision in Überlingen and in 1995 and 2006 in the flood disasters ). The Air Force came under fire for controversial missions as part of administrative assistance at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm in 2007 .

Tornado reconnaissance aircraft of the air force were from 1995 to 2001 in Piacenza stationed (Italy), circa 1995 first UNPROFOR (1995), IFOR (1995/1996) and SFOR (1996-1999) and in the Kosovo war , the Operation Allied Force (1999) and KFOR (1999-2001). On March 9, 2007, the German Bundestag decided to send six reconnaissance tornadoes as part of the ISAF mission to Mazar-e Sharif in Afghanistan . The mission was ended on November 30, 2010 with the landing of the aircraft on the home airfield. Since 2010, three unmanned Heron 1 reconnaissance systems have been operated by the Air Force to support the land forces from Mazar-e-Sharif.

Combat missions

In 1991, during the Gulf War, as part of NATO's Ace Guard operation, eighteen alpha jet fighter-bombers from Fighter Bomber Wing 43 were relocated to Erhac (Turkey) as part of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Forces (AMF) to secure NATO's southern flank against possible attacks of Iraq. In addition, the HAWK systems of the anti-aircraft missile squadron 36 and Roland systems of the anti-aircraft missile group 42 were relocated to Dyarbakir and Erhac to strengthen the air defense in this area. This led to heated discussions about the admissibility of such foreign assignments and finally to a clarification by the Federal Constitutional Court on July 12, 1994.

ECR tornadoes of Fighter Bomber Squadron 32 were tasked with the suppression of the Yugoslav air defenses in Operation Deliberate Force 1995 in support of UNPROFOR and Operation Allied Force in 1999 during the war against the former Yugoslavia.

In exceptional cases , so-called exchange officers of the Air Force take part in missions in the states in which they are used. For example, a German weapons systems officer on a Tornado Squadron of the Royal Air Force was deployed in Afghanistan from October 2009 to January 2010 .

See also


Web links

Commons : Luftwaffe  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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