Armaments: Rheinmetall expands ammunition production in Germany

Rheinmetall is building an extensive new ammunition production facility in Germany with the aim of supplying the Bundeswehr independently.

Armaments: Rheinmetall expands ammunition production in Germany

Rheinmetall is building an extensive new ammunition production facility in Germany with the aim of supplying the Bundeswehr independently. The systems for so-called medium-caliber ammunition should be ready in January, the armaments company confirmed on request. Previously, there had been political anger in Berlin over the Swiss veto on ammunition deliveries from Germany to Ukraine. The export of old stocks of the weapon material needed for the anti-aircraft gun tank Gepard would have required the approval of the Swiss government, which, however, refused, citing its own neutrality.

Rheinmetall also pointed to significant pent-up demand for ammunition in Germany and gaps created by support from Ukraine. They are to be filled in accordance with NATO specifications. A spokesman for the armaments company told the German Press Agency in Berlin that the focus of the new demand situation is on efforts "to set up the ammunition supply in Germany again, in principle, independently of foreign production facilities". It was decided to build a new production facility for calibers from 20 to 35 millimeters in Germany. Production is scheduled to start in June 2023.

First cheetah ammunition already in July

In addition, Rheinmetall will be able to deliver the first batch of cheetah ammunition as early as July, the spokesman said. According to reports, it is up to 300,000 shots for Ukraine if the federal government now issues a corresponding order. Germany gave the cheetah to Ukraine, but was initially only able to add a small amount of ammunition. The Gepard tanks, which were decommissioned by the Bundeswehr and handed over to the Ukraine, are equipped with a 35mm twin cannon from the Swiss armaments manufacturer Oerlikon. The Swiss manufacturer of weapons and ammunition now belongs to Rheinmetall.

"I am very relieved that the industry reacted so quickly. In the future, more and more ammunition that we urgently need will be manufactured in Germany," said the chairwoman of the defense committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), on Thursday German press agency. "In view of the security policy situation, it is of immense importance that Germany, together with the NATO partners, becomes more independent in the production of ammunition."

Protection against Russian air raids

The Gepard tanks will be used to protect Ukraine's infrastructure against Russian airstrikes. They also protect port facilities necessary for the transportation of Ukrainian grain to world markets. The fact that the Swiss government twice vetoed deliveries of ammunition from Germany to the Ukraine, with reference to its neutrality, was grudgingly accepted in Germany.

The Bundeswehr has also been purchasing medium-caliber ammunition from Switzerland for its Mantis anti-aircraft weapon system, for the main armament of the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, a naval gun and for the Tornado and Eurofighter combat aircraft. These are types of ammunition in calibers from 20 millimeters to 35 millimeters, which are now being manufactured on new machines in Germany.

In November, Strack-Zimmermann had demanded that consequences be drawn from the Swiss position in Germany. "What actually happens if Germany or one of the NATO countries is attacked and the ammunition manufactured in Switzerland is not delivered due to this 'neutrality'?" she asked.

More than 20 billion euros for ammunition

Germany intends to spend a total of more than 20 billion euros on ammunition in the coming years, including rockets and artillery ammunition. Rheinmetall sees itself as "responsible for supporting the federal government to the best of its ability in restoring the Bundeswehr's ability to defend itself," said the spokesman, who did not specifically mention Switzerland. The decision to build a new production line and expand production capacity for ammunition in Germany is independent of plans for existing locations in other countries. Where exactly the production facilities will be built is not yet publicly known.

The Rheinmetall spokesman continued: "We expressly see the step described as a contribution by industry to strengthening the Federal Republic of Germany's ability to act in foreign and security policy and to ensuring Germany's security within a strong North Atlantic Alliance and a united European Union by creating suitable capacities raise."

Rheinmetall takes over Spanish manufacturer

An acquisition in Europe that Rheinmetall recently announced also serves to expand capacity in the ammunition sector. With the takeover of the Spanish Expal Systems, the company will more than triple its capacity in the field of artillery ammunition and double it in the medium-caliber range and mortars. The takeover is to be completed by summer 2023 at the latest, once the antitrust reviews have been completed.

Bundeswehr to anti-aircraft gun tank Gepard Rheinmetall to Oerlikon Communication Switzerland

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