TWIAD is your bi-weekly, English-language briefing on national security and defence affairs in the alpine republic. The most relevant news reports, press releases, articles and announcements are recapped and, where necessary, put into context for greater accessibility. Feel free to get in touch and leave us your feedback and thoughts, ask questions in the comments or join the #TWIAD raucity on Twitter!
This article has been co-authored by Chiara Libiseller, doctoral student at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, and Bernhard Völkl.
Update: Future of air-traffic control
The future of air-traffic control remains uncertain, even though Minister of Defence Kunasek (FPÖ) has kept urging the government to make a decision before the end of this year. As we have discussed, the Saab 105 need replacement and the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet an upgrade or replacement by 2021. Notwithstanding the duration of such an acquisition process, the chancellor’s office has now announced that there will be no decision on further acquisitions before the conclusion of the parliamentary inquiry into the 2002 Eurofighter, hence not before June 2019.
According to media reports, the government seeks to acquire second-hand aircraft from another country; this is considered to be the least expensive option – reportedly the key criterion for chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Regarding the type of aircraft, the two governing parties seem to be in disagreement, however, with the ÖVP preferring continued use of the Eurofighter and the FPÖ favouring the Swedish Gripen.
In contrast to earlier reports, an Austrian newspaper has quoted unnamed military officers claiming that the airworthiness of the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet is guaranteed beyond 2021 without an update. These contradictory reports further add to the lack of precise information given to the public, after the government has refused to release an expert commission report on future scenarios for air-traffic control to the public or parliament.
Update: Former Bundesheer officer charged with spying remains in pretrial detention
A former Bundesheer officer charged with spying for Russia from 1992 to 2018 remains in custody. The Salzburg regional court declared the 70 year old likely to commit further crimes ahead of his trial; another hearing is scheduled for January 14 at the latest.
President and Minister visiting UNIFIL
President van der Bellen and minister of defence Kunasek paid the Austrian contingent in UNIFIL, Lebanon, a visit. 175 Bundesheer personnel are mainly tasked with transport and logistics for the peacekeeping force in the conflict-ridden region. They are challenged by out-of-date vehicles and equipment that is increasingly hard to maintain. Interestingly however, while the President (Greens) and Minister (FPÖ) did not arrive on the same day, the Bundesheer website only reports on the latter.
New trucks for supply troops
On December 12, the first batch of 140 new lorries for the Bundesheer were handed over by Minister Kunasek. While lacking the 12M18’s off-road capabilities, the new MAN 14.280 is supposed to replace some of the iconic 1980s-era trucks that are also in use with the U.S. Armed Forces.
In other news, TWIAD takes a break over the holidays; bar any major new developments, we will be back in January.
Header image: Bundesheer/Zinner
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