“We’re not living in a Time of Peace”

From 2025, the new ammunition factory is to produce 200,000 rounds of artillery ammunition per year

February 12th, 2024
Editorial, News from Berlin
20240212 Were not living in a Time of Peace.jpg

Military support for Ukraine and gaps in the Federal Armed Forces’ equipment are major challenges, which is why the armaments group Rheinmetall is expanding its production facilities.

When laying the foundation stone for the new munitions factory in Südheide, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz was impressed by the speed and dimensions of the project. Before the ground-breaking ceremony, the Federal Chancellor visited the existing production facilities together with Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

300 million euros in corporate investment  

In his speech, the Federal Chancellor pointed out that several thousand artillery shells were currently being fired every day at the front in eastern and southern Ukraine. He added that this showed the importance of independent and permanent production of this type of ammunition. "By investing 300 million euros in the new Lower Saxony plant, you are laying the foundation for independent and, above all, consistent supply with artillery ammunition for the Federal Armed Forces and our partners in Europe," he said, adding that the new factory would also create around 500 new jobs in the Südheide region.

Bundling European defence forces

Germany's forces alone were, however, not enough to support Ukraine, Scholz pointed out. The Federal Chancellor thanked the Danish Prime Minister Frederiksen, stating that the collaboration between Germany and Denmark could be a blueprint for closer European defence cooperation, as the two countries were working together effectively in the area of military equipment procurement. Scholz also welcomed the fact that Denmark had joined the European Sky Shield Initiative started by Germany, "through which we are looking to strengthen European air defence within the framework of NATO".
He stressed that not only the United States had to make greater contributions to support Ukraine but all European countries, too. Frederiksen also called on all European partners to follow the example set by Denmark and Germany and step up their arms production in order to strengthen European defence.

Military assistance: Germany provides support for Ukraine by supplying equipment and weapons, these come from supplies of the Federal Armed Forces and from deliveries from industry financed from the Federal Government’s funds for security capacity building. An overview is available here.

Solid industrial basis for strong defence 

Scholz clarified that this was not limited to the necessary financial resources but would also require a solid industrial basis for strong defence. "And we Europeans can create this by bundling our orders and combining our funds," said Scholz. He added that this would give the industry sound prospects for the next few decades.

Turning the Federal Armed Forces into one of the most powerful armies

With regard to the rapid start-up of production, the Federal Chancellor said: "We have laid the foundation for this with our special fund for the Federal Armed Forces worth 100 billion euros and our commitment, on which we have meanwhile delivered, to use two percent of our economic output to defend our country and our allies, now and in future."

The German armed forces and the armaments industry could rely on this promise, Scholz stressed. "This is the only way to achieve our goal of making the Federal Armed Forces one of Europe’s most powerful conventional armies."

Rheinmetall is one of the largest defence companies in Germany. In view of recent developments, the group is currently receiving a level of military orders it has rarely seen before. The demand for ammunition in particular has risen significantly. In addition to ammunition, explosives and components for rocket artillery are to be produced at the new plant in Unterlüß, too. Rheinmetall was founded in 1889 as the "Rheinische Metallwaren- und Maschinenbaufabrik Actiengesellschaft". Today, the company is a global technology group that develops and distributes components, systems and services for the security and civil industries. Around 33,700 employees currently work at 172 sites in 33 countries.


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