German-Made Ukrainian APCs Fail in Combat, Arms Deal Under Scrutiny: Report

FFG APCs for Ukraine: Weak armor, no protection, dubious manufacturing, and significant price disparity raise concerns.
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  • 05:55 AM, February 19, 2024
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German-Made Ukrainian APCs Fail in Combat, Arms Deal Under Scrutiny: Report
BATT UMG armored vehicle @The Armored Group

Issues have surfaced concerning the 48 FFG APC infantry fighting vehicles supplied by Germany to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as they are deemed unfit for deployment in combat zones due to their weak armor.

The vehicles, valued at approximately €40 million, have been revealed to be unsuitable for combat deployment, according to an investigation by the German publication Bild. Despite being designated as "infantry fighting vehicles," the FFG APCs lack essential mine and fragmentation protection against artillery, rocket, and mortar fire.

Military experts, including Carlo Masala from the Bundeswehr University in Munich, have condemned the situation, labeling it a potential procurement scandal that jeopardizes lives. Masala emphasized, "If it turns out that only the lightly armored variant was delivered to Ukraine, it will be a crystal clear procurement scandal. Savings were made here at the expense of lives."

Concerns are now being raised about the transparency and efficacy of an arms deal between the Federal Ministry of Defense (BMVg) and the Flensburg arms manufacturer FFG. Bild's investigation has uncovered several inconsistencies, prompting concerns about the pricing, manufacturing location, and military capabilities of the delivered vehicles.

The BMVg confirmed the planned transfer of 66 "protected infantry combat vehicles" to Ukraine in June 2023, with FFG winning the contract over Rheinmetall. The BMVg's statement mentioned, "After evaluating the existing offers, the choice fell on the product from FFG as the most economical solution, which is also available quickly." However, since October 2023, only 48 of the promised 66 vehicles have been delivered to Ukraine.

Surprisingly, the FFG APCs were not manufactured in Germany, as initially claimed. Instead, the order was subcontracted to the United Arab Emirates through the U.S. defense company "The Armored Group."

Military experts are troubled by the insufficient armor of the FFG APCs, which only provide protection against small arms, leaving them vulnerable to heavy fire in combat situations. The Defense Ministry contends that increased mine protection was not requested by Ukraine, a claim disputed by a high-ranking Ukrainian official who expressed a preference for mine-protected vehicles. The publication was informed by the government sources that the FFG's proposal was presented as a substitute for Rheinmetall's 'Fuchs,' leading the Ukrainians to anticipate that it would include mine protection.

The cost of the vehicles is also raising eyebrows, with documents revealing that the German taxpayer paid a unit price of €600,000 per vehicle, almost three times the market rate stated in a press release from "The Armored Group" in June 2022.

CDU defense expert Roderich Kiesewetter criticizes this apparent price discrepancy and calls for an internal investigation and an audit by the Federal Audit Office to clarify the financial disparities. “If it turns out that poor-quality armored vehicles were purchased and delivered to Ukraine at almost three times the usual market price, that would be doubly problematic. Firstly, scarce transition funds are being burned unnecessarily. Secondly, this is done on the backs and endangerment of Ukrainian soldiers,” he said.

Bild, having viewed the purchase contract of a BATT UMG armored vehicles customer, notes that the vehicles delivered from Germany to Ukraine have a unit price of €185,000 to €208,000. Kiesewetter questions the federal government's decision to supply less-protected vehicles when 100 available FUCHS armored transport vehicles could have been provided.

Bild has confronted FFG and TAG Group companies involved in the deal with these findings, but as of now, there has been no response. The revelations surrounding the FFG APCs have sparked widespread concern and demand for accountability in this arms deal that potentially puts both Ukrainian soldiers and German taxpayers at risk.

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