Germany orders artillery shells for Ukraine for over $400 million



PARIS — Germany approved orders for more than $400 million worth of 155mm artillery shells for Ukraine in recent days, in separate deals with Rheinmetall and an unidentified French company.

The German army placed an order for several tens of thousands of shells for the Ukrainian armed forces under an existing framework agreement with Rheinmetall, with a value of at least €100 million, or $110 million, the company said in a Dec. 18 statement.

That follows a Dec. 14 announcement that the Defence Ministry is buying 68,000 shells for Ukraine from a French armament company for €278 million.

Ukraine is firing up to 7,000 artillery rounds per day in its war with Russia, according to a European Parliament report from November. The United States and European countries have supplied Ukraine with hundreds of artillery pieces that fire NATO-standard 155mm shells, a caliber not manufactured locally, but the European defense industry is unable to keep up requisite production rates.

Germany’s Bundeswehr ordered 155mm ammunition for a “three-digit million euro amount,” with delivery scheduled for 2025, according to Rheinmetall. The order is part of a framework agreement concluded with the company in July for delivery of several hundred thousands of shells, fuses and propellant charges through to 2029, with a potential gross order volume of around €1.2 billion.

The latest order is at least the fourth announced by Rheinmetall under the framework agreement, and it includes high-explosive, smoke and practice rounds.

Rheinmetall’s order backlog for weapons and ammunition more than doubled year-on-year to €11.3 billion through the end of September, with major orders including two multi-year framework agreements for munitions, the company reported last month. The company has said it plans a “massive increase” of output in 2024 to boost annual production capacity to around 700,000 artillery rounds.

Germany also approved the purchase of 68,000 155mm shells for Ukraine from a French company, the defense ministry said Thursday. The framework agreement with the company includes an option for as many as 350,000 rounds.

A spokesperson for the defense ministry did not respond requests for information about the French manufacturer.

The German government is looking for other ways to increase ammunition production, and is prepared to open up its national framework agreements with industry to partner countries, according to the ministry.

French artillery-shells manufacturer Nexter declined to either confirm or deny it received an order for 155mm rounds from Germany. The company plans to increase annual capacity by 50% in 2024 from 60,000 shells before the war in Ukraine, and to more than double output in 2025, Nexter spokesman Gabriel Massoni told Defense News.

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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