BERLIN German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere plans deep cuts to Germany's military orders as part of sweeping reforms to the Bundeswehr, including a reduction in the order for Eurofighter jets, according to an internal document obtained by Reuters.
The note from De Maiziere to parliament's defense committee details plans to cut by 37 to 140 the order for Eurofigher aircraft, to reduce an order for Puma tanks to 350 from 410 and to slash an order for Tiger combat helicopters to 40 from 80.
The minister also wants to reduce the number of NH-90 helicopters to 80 from 120.
The cuts would free up funds for the ministry, allowing it to improve efficiency within the armed forces, De Maiziere wrote.
The aircraft affected are made by the consortium of European aerospace and defense group EADS, Britain's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica The Puma tanks are made by Germany's Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW).
De Maiziere said in the paper he would meet defense industry representatives on Wednesday to discuss the orders, and he was sure a mutually satisfactory solution could be found.
He had complained in the past that much of Germany's defense budget was hamstrung by large orders, some of which dated from the cold war.
Germany plans to reduce the number of its troops to 65,000 from 185,000 and this year ended compulsory military service. Germany has around 5,200 soldiers deployed as part of NATO's mission in Afghanistan, most of them in the north.
Further cuts detailed in de Maiziere's paper included a reduction to the order for drones to 16 from 22, and for high-flying unmanned Global Hawks to 4 from 6.
(Reporting By Sabine Siebold; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum and Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters and Helen Massy-Beresford)