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On May 10, 2021, the first steel for the ninth Corvette K130, the “Augsburg”, was cut. Due to the corona, the so-called burning start in the German Naval Yards Kiel was celebrated in a small circle. This is an unspectacular act in which a plasma torch cuts the first piece of steel. Despite the pandemic, this happened according to plan, as the working group K130 (ARGE K130), which consists of Ms. Lürssen Werft, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and German Naval Yards Kiel, emphasizes. The Kiel shipyard will manufacture another of the 43-meter-long front sections. At Blohm and Voss in Hamburg, the merger takes place with the aft section, the so-called “wedding bump” and the final equipment. The aft ships of hull numbers 7 to 10 are being built by the Peene shipyard in Wolgast.

German Navy Corvette: “Erfurt”. Image – German Navy

Construction number 6, the “Cologne”, is currently being fitted out at the Lürssen Blohm + Voss site in Hamburg. With the now ‘cut off’ “Augsburg” there are a total of four corvettes under construction.

In April 2019, construction of the second batch of corvettes began with the first steel cut for hull number 6 at the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen. According to the current armaments report of the Federal Ministry of Defense (December 2020), the project is on time and within budget, the deviation (measured against the first parliamentary treatment) to the next milestone, the start of delivery, is specified as seven months. The delay is due to the negotiation of the 16th change request, in which a large number of subcontractors were involved. The delivery of the “Köln” is expected in the first quarter of 2023. Construction number 10, the “Lübeck”, is due to expire in 2025.

The Federal Budget Act 2021 shows a sum of 2.273 billion euros for the procurement of the second lot of the Corvette class 130. Financially, the project is thirteen percent (311 million euros) above budget. In the last armaments report it was five percent or 112 million euros. In addition to the contractually agreed escalation, the reasons for the development are changes in services and the conversion of the price type, it is said.

Overall, the contractually fixed price escalation with a total of eight billion euros (for all armaments programs) represents the largest share compared to the estimates made at the beginning of the project. In addition, performance improvements and changes in services change the originally made approach, cumulative approx. 3.3 billion euros (for all armaments projects) . These changes are based on additional services that respond to military and technological developments during the procurement process. Fundamentally, the financial requirement can also be reduced, for example if the original claim no longer applies or if the technical feasibility is insufficient.

The deviation of the current budgetary representation of all current armaments projects evaluated in the armaments report is around 13.7 billion euros in absolute terms in 2020 and around 27% in relative terms. (Always: compared to the original estimate of the projects at the start of the project – i.e. the first 25 million submission.)

As a guide: the Corvette K130 (2017 in the budget committee) is below average with its 13% increase. In contrast, NH90: 32% a little higher.

Hans Uwe Mergener (Cpt  Ret German Navy)