More tanks for German police

After the special forces, riot police forces of the Länder and the Federal Police now also receive modern armoured vehicles. Defence companies compete with models weighing up to 15 tons.

Several dozen police stations in Germany will be equipped with new wheeled tanks. The riot police of the federal states receive 45 modern vehicles for the first time, the Federal Police increases its stock by ten. According to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, these are „protected“ off-road vehicles and passenger transport vehicles. Parliamentary State Secretary Stefan Mayer calls them „Sonderwagen 5“ („Special Car“, SW 5), but the Federal Police no longer wants to use this term.

With this major order, the Ministry wants to replace the „Sonderwagen 4“ (SW 4), which has been used by the Federal Government and the Länder since 1984. Its manufacturer, the Kassel-based armaments group Thyssen Henschel, which has since been taken over by Rheinmetall, has long ceased production. The Federal Police use the old wheeled tanks only at airports, where they are partly armed with a machine gun. All other SW4s were sold to the Bundeswehr and Macedonia.

Financing of water cannons and video surveillance vehicles

The procurement of the new „Sonderwagen“ for the riot police is implemented via the administrative agreement between the Länder and the Federal Government. The agreement, first concluded in 1950 and renewed several times, regulates the possibilities for the Federal Government to issue police instructions to the Länder. In return, the Federal Ministry of the Interior finances „command and control resources“ for the riot police and takes care of their „further development and redesign“. The inspector of the riot police of the Länder, who is based at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, is responsible.

The 78 new water cannons for German police forces will also be procured via the administrative agreement, and the contract was awarded to the Austrian company Rosenbauer. Their unit price was 900,000 euros. From 2011, the Federal Government has also financed the 52 new „evidence and documentation vehicles“ (BeDoKw) for the Länder. A further 24 reconnaissance vehicles were purchased for the Federal Police.

Quite narrow: The „Sonderwagen 4“.

The current procurement of the „Sonderwagen 5“ is lagging behind earlier plans. Originally, the Federal Ministry of the Interior wanted to equip all almost 80 locations of the Federal Police with armoured vehicles. Spiegel reported on this two years ago and quoted from an internal analysis for the former conservative Minister of Interior Thomas de Maizière. According to this analysis, the new vehicles will be able to withstand the bombardment of Kalashnikov rifles used by assassins in recent attacks in Europe. Of particular importance is the transport of special forces to an attack site. The old „Sonderwagen 4“ can carry up to nine people, but it is too small for the police officers.

Operations at the G20 summit

„Eagle IV“ at G20 summit in Hamburg (all rights reserved Bundespolizei).

It remains to be seen which companies will be commissioned to supply the „Sonderwagen 5“. An invitation to tender should be made in accordance with the decision of the Budget Act 2018, which passed the Bundestag in July. The Federal Police are already using ten lightly armoured „Eagle IV“ vehicles from the Swiss manufacturer General Dynamics European Land Systems at some airports that were flown back from Afghanistan in 2014. Sometimes the vehicles are also used in major police situations such as the G20 summit.

With the „ENOK 6.1“, Mercedes-Benz also offers an armoured patrol vehicle. It was actually developed for the Bundeswehr and is based on the G-Class vehicles. The Federal Police has procured and armed seven „ENOK“ for the security of airports. There the vehicle operates as „Protected Operation Vehicle 2 – Aviation Security“ (GEF-2 LuSi).

The „Survivor I“ at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

The company Achleitner from Austria is one of the possible manufacturers of the new wheeled tank. Their „Survivor I“ is already being used by the police in Hamburg for one million euros, where it was called to the G20 summit to transport special forces from the garage. During the clashes in the Schanzenviertel, however, the equipment, which weighed more than ten tons, proved to be less manoeuvrable and therefore unsuitable for urban demonstration situations.

The special task force of the Brandenburg police also bought a „Survivor I“, the price of 1.4 million euros is significantly higher than in Hamburg. The car has barred windows, a clearing blade, a fire extinguishing system and a ventilation system for use in situations involving nuclear, biological and chemical warfare agents.

Weapons to follow

„Survivor R“ (all rights reserved Rheinmetall).

Finally, Rheinmetall, together with Achleitner, has also developed a „Survivor R“. The heavily armoured vehicle belongs to the „Mine Resistant and Ambush Protected Vehicles“ (MRAP) class. At around 15 tons, the „Survivor R“ is the heaviest wheeled tank in use in Germany. The basic version of the „Survivor R“ is expected to cost 500,000 euros, while other sources estimate it to cost up to 1.5 million euros, depending on the equipment. On request, the vehicle can be equipped with a night vision camera and other sensors, a snow plough and a scaffold for storming houses.

One of the buyers of the „Survivor R“ is the Berlin police, which is to be supplied with a vehicle in 2018. First, the Saxon police had purchased two „Survivor R“ for their special operations squad. The unit is equipped with a launcher for smoke grenades or tear gas and can be armed with a machine gun. According to a Saxon police spokesman, however, this is „not yet fully ripe for decision“. The new police law, whose draft contains the provision for the arming of „all protection transport vehicles“, is intended to remedy this situation.

The federal police were faster and equipped their wheeled tanks at airports with modern weapon systems. Machine guns can be mounted on a „remote controlled light weapon station“ (FLW 100), which was developed for the German Armed Forces by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. There are already 1,000 of these „weapon stations“ in use. It is operated from inside the vehicle. Within one year 21 federal police vehicles are equipped with the FLW 100. Once again as many will follow when the Federal Police receives their new „Sonderwagen 5“.

Image: The „Survivor R“ on the sales fair „European Police Congress“.

Autor: Matthias Monroy

Knowledge worker, activist, editor of the German civil rights journal Bürgerrechte & Polizei/CILIP.