The Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) part of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has placed a significant order for 155mm artillery shells with BAE Systems, which will increase the UK’s stockpile and deliver an eight-fold increase in production capacity. As part of an initial £190 million contract increase under the existing long-term Next Generation Munitions Solution (NGMS) agreement, BAE Systems will ramp up production of the NATO-standard round, creating more than 100 new jobs in South Wales and the North-East of England. 155mm shells are fired from heavy artillery systems such as Archer, which the MOD procured from Sweden to replace the AS90, and provide an effective mix of range and destructive power.
Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive at BAE Systems, said:“We’re incredibly proud of our role in delivering equipment to protect our armed forces and as the UK Ministry of Defence’s long-term strategic partner for munitions supply, we’re actively mobilising our operations in support of our NATO allies. This multi-million-pound investment will enable us to significantly ramp up production and sustain vital sovereign capability to deliver cutting-edge munitions, whilst creating and sustaining highly skilled jobs across the UK.”
Ed Cutts, DE&S Director Weapons, said: “As we continue to help Ukraine repel the Russian invasion, it is crucial we not only replenish the UK’s weapons and ammunition stocks but also increase operational stockpiles so that our armed forces can protect our nation and our allies. This additional order will significantly increase BAE Systems’ production capacity, delivering an eight-fold increase and secure increased sovereign capacity for ammunition for years to come.”
The MOD have been heavily involved as NATO nations have provided millions of rounds of ammunition and game-changing equipment to Ukrainian armed forces in their fight against the illegal Russian invasion. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the increase in the UK’s 155mm production capacity ahead of the ongoing NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. This investment will allow BAE Systems to invest in new and expanded facilities at Glascoed in South Wales, and Washington in Tyne & Wear. The MOD have also placed an order for 30mm cannon rounds and 5.56mm rifle rounds for UK stockpiles. The new ammunition orders have been placed under the existing Next Generation Munitions Solution – an initial £2.4 billion 15-year agreement with BAE Systems to manufacture and supply a range of general munitions for UK Armed Forces up to 2037.