By Andrea Shalal
BERLIN, April 25 Germany's defence ministry on
Tuesday projected a cost increase of 525 million euros ($570.99
million) in its 4 billion euro programme to build four MKS 180
multi-role warships, and it signalled a further delay in the
Germany and its allies in NATO report a sharp increase in
Russian naval activities to levels exceeding those seen during
the Cold War, prompting concerns for the current distribution of
Western naval defences.
Defence ministry State Secretary Markus Gruebel told
lawmakers in a letter viewed by Reuters the extra money was
needed to ensure the ships' future capabilities and increase
protections for the crew and the vessel.
The requirements for the ship were adjusted to account for
"recent security developments" shortly before a second request
for proposals was released at the end of March, he said. Gruebel
gave no details about additional equipment or capabilities.
He said negotiations would begin after the three bidding
teams submitted revised offers at the end of September.
Gruebel said the further timetable for the programme,
already delayed by about six months last October, would depend
on negotiations with industry and when the ministry asked for
"best and final offers".
Given the process, defence experts said it was unlikely that
a final contract for the ships could be signed before the end of
the year, as Gruebel had projected in an October letter to
The ship tender is one of Germany's biggest arms projects,
along with a contract for the MEADS missile defence system, to
be built by the European defence group MBDA and Lockheed Martin
Corp, that has also been delayed.
The new MKS 180 multi-role combat ships are to be delivered
from 2023. It was not immediately clear if that plan would
stand. The ships are to be capable of attacking targets on land
and underwater and providing aerial protection to other vessels.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen decided in February to
buy two additional MK 180 ships instead of putting off that
decision until 2030 as initially planned, but has not released a
revised estimated for the total programme cost.
In the letter to the German parliament's budget committee,
Gruebel said better risk-benefit analyses were paying off, with
the ministry saving an estimated 300 million euros by dropping
requirements that were deemed unnecessary.
But the overall cost of the programme was still expected to
rise, given new security challenges, he said.
The three teams bidding to build the new warships are the
Bremen-based shipyard Luerssen and Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems
, Blohm + Voss and the Dutch group Damen shipyards, and
German Naval Yards paired with Britain's BAE Systems,
according to security sources.
($1 = 0.9195 euros)
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Sabine Siebold; editing by Mark