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Ukraine conflict: France accelerates ammunition production

Mistral missile production has been increased from 20 in 2022 to 30 in 2023, and is expected to rise to 40 in 2024. (MBDA)

French Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu unveiled an action plan to accelerate ammunition production and relocate strategic activities during a meeting with defence industry representatives on 22 February.

The war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic have resulted in the relocation of stocks and production sites, according to the French Ministry of Armed Forces. Lecornu described Eurenco's decision – announced by the company on 22 February – to increase its production capacity for large-calibre propellants (mainly for 155 mm ammunition), and to relocate it to France as “historic”. EUR50 million (USD53 million) of the EUR60 million investment in this effort will be self-financed by Eurenco, with the aim to produce 1,200 tonnes of propellants for 500,000 modular charges a year, starting in the first half of 2025. This will be done by expanding Eurenco's production line in Bergerac, with the company also planning to increase its production capacity in other sites in Europe.

General Monique Legrand-Larroche, Inspector General of the French Armed Forces, has been charged with reviewing the production and maintenance of the CAESAR self-propelled howitzer, including possible improvements in raw materials and the use of subcontractors. Laurent Collet-Billon, former director general of the Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, has been charged with proposing solutions for increasing rates of production, especially of Mistral surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and 155 mm artillery rounds. Lecornu said Mistral production had been increased from 20 in 2022 to 30 in 2023, and is expected to rise to 40 in 2024.

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