Rheinmetall breaks ground on €300m artillery shell factory

The war in Ukraine has shown how important shell production is in modern high-intensity war (Jose E Guillen/Public Domain)
Düsseldorf-based arms manufacturer Rheinmetall has broken ground on an ammunition factory near the village of Unterluess in Lower Saxony. The ceremony was attended by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister of Denmark.

When complete, the €300m Niedersachsen Works will produce artillery shells, explosives and rocket artillery components. The factory will eventually make some 200,000 rounds a year, along with up to 1,900 tonnes of RDX explosive.

The factory could also supply a future rocket artillery project with engines and warheads.

Armin Papperger, Rheinmetall’s chief executive, said the national factory would help to “secure Germany’s strategic sovereignty in the large-calibre ammunition domain”.

He said: “We’re creating a national production facility that sets new standards and will primarily meet the needs of the German Bundeswehr. The move reflects our sense of responsibility and resolve to contribute materially to the ability of our country and our Nato partners to defend themselves.”

He added that Rheinmetall would pay the entire cost of the factory, and that it would create around 500 jobs.

Chancellor Scholz added that Rheinmetall was “laying the foundation for supplying the Bundeswehr and our partners in Europe with artillery ammunition independently and above all durably.”

The point about strategic sovereignty means that the company will develop the entire supply chain for the ammunition in Germany, including the shell, the fuse, and the explosive and propelling charges.

In its press release, Rheinmetall adds that the war in Ukraine shows how quickly ammunition stocks are exhausted in high-intensity combat.

It said: “The Bundeswehr’s depots are empty; replenishing its stocks will cost an estimated €40bn. Enormous consumption of ammunition in Ukraine is exacerbating current shortages. The western world’s available production capacity is not structured to meet demand on this scale. Like other countries, Germany therefore plans to procure large amounts of ammunition over an extended period.”

By 2025, Rheinmetall aims to produce up to 700,000 rounds of artillery ammunition at its plants in Germany, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Hungary, as well as 10,000 tonnes of powder.

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