The Czech Republic has expanded its objectives to provide a steady supply of munitions for Ukraine’s Armed Forces through an ammunition coalition after notable success among partners and allies.

Czech officials have been mediating bilateral procurement agreements with foreign suppliers, and upon launching the initiative outlined its aims to purchase 500,000 155-millimetre (mm) shells and 300,000 122mm shells for Ukraine at a total estimated cost of €3bn ($3.2bn).

Prague conducted extensive research within the global munitions market and initially identified over 800,000 shells which were available for purchase on the global market.

The so-called ‘Czech Initiative’ saw early successes with the Czech Government signing contracts for 180,000 shells by mid-April 2024, with several other Nato member states having joined the initiative in recent months.

The project is supported by Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Geographic jostling to top of the global ammunition market

The global military ammunition market has picked up pace, with GlobalData intelligence originally projecting a 2.3% compound annual growth rate over the next decade back in 2021. This has now risen to 5.3% since 2023, which accounts for a more uncertain security environment.

Originally dominated by the Asia-Pacific region, followed closely by North America and then Europe, these regions have jostled. North America now leads the way, followed notably by Europe, which is marginally ahead of the Asia-Pacific region.

Global Military Ammunition market share, 2023-2033. Credit: GlobalData intelligence.

Can European industry match Czech ambitions?

Despite Europe’s marked growth in ammunition production since the Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine just over two years ago, industrial producers on the continent are still falling behind the demands required of Ukraine and European militaries.

In a GlobalData Analyst Briefing on the growing success of the Czech Initiative, Tristan Sauer expressed a similar concern: “The fact that the Czech Initiative had to source munitions from outside the EU is a testament to the historic failures of European defence industrial policy over the past three decades.

“Limited investment in supply chains [has] resulted in shortages of critical equipment thus driving up procurement costs and delivery timelines as defence firms seek to balance competing demands. Whether this initiative will serve as the catalyst for increased collaboration within the European defence and security industry remains to be seen, but it [is] nonetheless an important step in the right direction.”

One positive outlook is that the EU Commission and the European Defence Agency have released their first ever Defence Industrial Strategy last month. One performance indicator will ensure that, by 2030, the value of intra-EU defence trade represents at least 35% of the value of the EU defence market, which will require substantial industrial support for continental suppliers.