The military budget for 2023 was 3.38 billion euros. With an increase of 21 percent – the equivalent of 697.1 million euros – it should break the “sound barrier” of four billion euros in 2024, Defense Minister Claudia Tanner (ÖVP) told today’s budget committee. This means that defense spending will be 3.3 percent of the total spending of the federal government.
The planned budget increase of 4.02 billion euros forms the basis for a significant increase in investment of 474.9 million euros (plus 66.7 percent) compared to the previous year. Material costs will also increase by 8.8 percent and should therefore make up about 29 percent of the military budget, which will mainly consist of ammunition (plus 30 million euros), clothing and equipment (plus 19.4 million euros), work services (plus 23) is reflected in. , 1 million euros) and energy (plus 16.2 million euros).
The largest items among investments include motor vehicles with 110.3 million euros, armored vehicles with 306.2 million euros, weapon systems with 249.1 million euros and aircraft equipment with 195 million euros. The latter item also includes 121.1 million euros for Leonardo’s light multi-role helicopter AW169 and 35 million euros for the successor to the C-130 Hercules air transport system.
Personnel expenses are expected to increase by 8.4 percent. Tanner pointed out that in the air sector, 121.1 million euros have been earmarked for 36 Leonardo helicopters in the coming year, one of which will arrive in Austria on average every two months. Its total cost will be Rs 790 million. Of these, twelve are training helicopters (together with military operational capability) and four are for the medical sector. Across the entire medical system, 4.2 million euros will be earmarked for the purchase of equipment such as defibrillators and computer tomographs. In addition, the purchase of 250 trucks and an investment of 11.6 million euros in the cyber sector are planned.
The Defense Minister said that one of the biggest challenges for the federal army is recruitment and retention of personnel. A budget of 1.75 million euros has been kept for this. The federal military must prove itself in the labor market compared to the private sector, which is why compulsory military service should be leveraged to persuade potential soldiers with attractive working conditions.
A ministry expert reported that out of the target number of 3,700 volunteer registrations, only 2,400 had been achieved, as Hubert Fuchs (FPÖ) objected, with “the bar set high”. However, for Tanner there was no question that more had to be done to ensure that more people chose careers in the armed forces. Special attention should be paid to specialists in the field of medicine, ICT or pilots.
Tanner Volker Reifenberger (FPÖ) agreed that the militia system had not yet “lived up to”. Therefore, a “Militia Package” was implemented, through which every purchase of assault rifles, equipment and uniforms would also be made available to the militia. In addition, militia exercises will be made attractive with a remuneration of 100 euros per day to increase interest in the exercises, which is also beneficial for the civilian profession, Tanner explained.