What are the names of German pilots

German Air Force - with planes, but without pilots

They rise into the sky with a deafening roar. Three Eurofighters roar one after the other over the flickering runway in Rostock-Laage every minute. Everyday life at the air force base. Eurofighters take off from here up to 20 times a day - for training flights and to secure German airspace.

Laage is something like the showcase location of the German Air Force. The air force squadron is the Training location for Eurofighter pilots. After basic flying training abroad, practice is practiced here - in the air and on the ground.

Operational fighter jets - but not pilots

The deputy head of the Air Force Wing, Jan Gloystein, is proud of "his" air base. But he has a serious problem: "I miss the pilots." He currently has 23. "I'm missing 20." The reason he cites a "growth problem" in the air force; so too few applicants.

It is no different at other Luftwaffe locations. Only around two-thirds of the fighter pilot positions are occupied, it is alarmingly in the last report of the Armed Forces Commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD).

In a response from the federal government to a request from the FDP, it was said recently that six pilots had resigned in the first half of 2018 alone. In the previous five years there were only a total of eleven. Apparently, the lucrative salaries in civil aviation are attractive. The crash of two Eurofighters at the end of June also damaged the Air Force's image as an employer. Another reason for the lack of young people for a long time was the lack of flight experience in the Bundeswehr because there were no planes that were ready to fly.

Air force at its lowest point

Around a year ago, the then new Inspector of the Air Force, Ingo Gerhartz, sounded the alarm: "The Air Force is at a low point." Many of his fighter jets are not ready for use, spare parts from the industry are not available, and the inspection of a Eurofighter often takes longer than a year. Completely unacceptable, Gerhartz complained at the time.

Politicians seem to have heard Ingo Gerhartz

In any case, the "Steinhoff" air force squadron has improved a lot since then. Gerhartz's outcry has apparently left an impression on politics and industry. In any case, Lieutenant Colonel Jan Gloystein assures that 70 percent of his 24 Eurofighters are now ready for training. Only in the older model series is there sometimes a lack of spare parts; otherwise the supply is good. It is absurd: if it used to be a lack of ready-to-fly machines, the Air Force lacks pilots today. A problem that the Bundeswehr should keep busy for years.

The new Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer could easily advertise the pilot's job: "We are not just the noise nuisers," says Gloystein.

Hope for a windfall and new flight simulators

You can also fly completely noise-free in Laage - in one of the two "full mission" flight simulators. The simulators are located in large dome-like halls. They are original cockpits of a Eurofighter with all fittings and displays. The landscape is projected onto the all-round screen, the sky, the pale sun, the attacker. Everything amazingly real. The trainers proudly claim that it is the best system in the world. 29 experts, 16 of them former flight instructors, supervise the training on the simulator.

DW reporter Volker Witting is impressed by the flight simulator

According to NATO regulations, Bundeswehr pilots have to demonstrate 180 flight hours per year. 40 of these can be completed in the simulator. Only around 58 percent of German pilots currently meet these NATO readiness requirements. A remedy is to be found in Laage soon - among other things with two new flight simulators, which will be purchased in the coming year so that critical situations in the air can be practiced even better. In the Air Force, they rely entirely on Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer. She promised to work for more money for the Bundeswehr.