08/01/2020 | Story

Rheinmetall is equipping NATO's spearhead VJTF – Bundeswehr prepares for the VJTF leadership in 2023

For 12 months the Bundeswehr leads the Very High Joint Readiness Task Force (VJTF), known as "NATO spearhead ". In case of deployment, German soldiers would be on the front line. As a partner of the Bundeswehr, Rheinmetall makes a sustained contribution to fulfilling the increased requirements of the VJTF and to protecting the soldiers.
NATO requires the spearhead Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to be operational within 48 to 72 hours. This includes at least 5,000 soldiers from the army, air force, navy and special forces – and they need to be at the ready. Every year, the NATO nations change leadership of the superfast response force. As well as Germany, countries such as France, Great Britain, Italy, Poland and Spain have declared their willingness to be involved. For the year 2023, Germany will take over the VJTF as the leading nation and provide up to 2,700 soldiers. Rheinmetall Defence will bear a major responsibility for the continuous supply of materials.

The crisis response force

The VJTF unit is the core of the NATO Response Force (NRF) – the previous crisis response force – and is therefore part of the Readiness Action Plan (RAP). It is NATO's fastest response force. Its most important role is to increase response capacity. In order to protect the Baltic states, NATO initiated the RAP in 2014/2015 and thus the VJTF. The annexation of Crimea by Russia is the reason for increasing the response time of the armed forces.

Germany's responsibility as a framework nation

The NATO membership condition for Germany was fulfilled in 1954 when the Paris Treaties were signed. Germany has been a reliable partner of NATO since 1955 and participates in foreign military operations and in alliance defence. During the Cold War, the sovereign territoryof the Federal Republic of Germany was protected by the stationing of large NATO units and the Bundeswehr. Germany is now assuming a similar role by leading the VJTF.

Operations are decided together at the political level by the NATO member countries by unanimous vote. The second step is for the Bundestag to decide on German participation.

The response times of the VJTF

The VJTF rotation principle consists of three phases: 
  • Stand-up phase: 45 days' time to operational readiness
  • Stand-by phase: Two to seven days to operational readiness
  • Stand-down phase: 30 days to operational readiness 

Three states are operational according to this rotation principle with different response times. In the event of an emergency, NATO thus has three multinational brigades at its disposal, which respond within two to 45 days. From 2020, Poland will rotate into the stand-by phase, Germany into the stand-down phase. The multinational VJTF brigades increase NATO's operational readiness.

VJTF and the Bundeswehr

The Bundeswehr struggled with bottlenecks for some time – whether material or personnel shortages. As the framework nation of the VJTF leadership in 2023, this needs to change. For the major manoeuvre "Trident Juncture" in autumn 2018 on the Norwegian coast, the Bundeswehr took up the challenge – with success. Logistically, time was tight, but it was sufficient for VJTF certification, even though "Trident Juncture" had contracted material from the Bundeswehr since it was not yet fully equipped at the time. The German Ministry of Defence is satisfied with the result because the process was deliberately prepared to identify weaknesses. 

The major manoeuvre "Trident Juncture" was the biggest NATO manoeuvre since the end of the Cold War. 50,000 soldiers from 31 nations practiced defending alliance territories. 8,000 German soldiers successfully took part in the major manoeuvre. 

Due to the rotation principle, the brigades are bound to the VJTF for a period of three years. The VJTF is a substantial exertion because they are not available for other missions and international obligations during this time.

Rheinmetall delivers to the Bundeswehr

As a partner of the Bundeswehr, Rheinmetall plays a key role in equipping NATO's spearhead Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF 2023) for the stand-by phase in 2023.
"We have understood the precise requirements of the Bundeswehr. Now we have an obligation to act. The armoured infantry officer system will be the material spearhead of the German army for VJTF. Ultimately, we will have to be assessed in terms of our delivery time, quality and adherence to budget. If we keep to our promise, we will create the basis for the Bundeswehr's success. That is entrepreneurial responsibility because our only success is if the Bundeswehr succeed."
Christoph Müller

Head of Program Organisation for Germany

Rheinmetall products for VJTF

Puma armoured personnel carrier
Leopard main battle tank
Fuchs light wheeled tank
Marder armoured personnel carrier
Unprotected transport vehicle (UTV)
Live ammunition

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