London: As part of boosting its defence forces, the UK is ramping up its munitions manufacturing with a deal between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems to supply 155mm artillery shells and other ammunition.
The order is worth £280 million ($361 million) initially, with options that would increase the value of the deal to more than £400 million, the MoD said in a statement July 11.
BAE Systems said the deal will significantly increase production of munitions such as the 155mm , 30mm medium-caliber rounds and 5.56mm small-arms ammunition at its facilities in the north of England and South Wales.
“The production of 155mm shells is a demonstration of our commitment to invest in our armed forces and sovereign manufacturing capabilities,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the British Government came in for criticism from the Parliamentary defence committee for allowing Britain’s weapons stocks to dwindle. The committee said in its March report that it would take a decade to rebuild weapon stocks to acceptable levels and urged the MoD to rapidly expand industrial capacity to speed the rebuilding process. To date, replenishing of stocks of weapons dispatched to the Ukraine has largely centred on missiles including the anti-tank NLAW weapon.
BAE said July 11 it was already investing in expanding munition capabilities in the UK to increase sovereign capabilities in the sector. The spending includes a new machining line for 155 mm shells, a new explosives filling factory and the restart of a 30mm manufacturing capability.
No specific mention was made of the uptick in production contributing supplies of 155mm shells to Ukraine. The UK has previously provided quantities of ammunition, along with self-propelled guns to Kyiv.