Nato concluded contracts for the purchase of 155mm artillery shells, ordering 220,000 shells for $1.2bn through Nato’s Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) on 23 January 2024, in a move that will refill the stock of Allied nations as the international treaty organisation continues to support Ukraine. 

“Russia’s war in Ukraine has become a battle for ammunition,” said Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, at the signing ceremony for the new investment in artillery ammunition, highlighting the significance of procurement chains in Nato’s strategic concept. 

Artillery fires have been a significant element in the war in Ukraine, with both Russia and Ukraine looking for outside supply to maintain the high rate of ammunition consumption. Russia has sourced munitions from North Korean stockpiles in an arrangement observers expect to be in return for advanced rocket and missile technology, while Ukraine has received donations of ammunition on a regular basis from Nato partners and allies. 

The demand for 155mm ammunition has illuminated the shortfalls in domestic production of a fundamental element of defence for many advanced nations, both among Nato and outside of the alliance. In November 2023, Estonia’s Minister of Defence, Hanno Pevkur, criticised the inaction of decision makers at a meeting of the Council of the European Union.

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By GlobalData

While the EU had enacted legislation to accelerate local ammunition manufacturing with the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP), Pevkur – who’s country had committed to putting 30% of its defence budget toward ammunition production – felt that the EU had not met the expectations it set out in Spring when designing the legislation. 

At the signing ceremony in January 2024, Stoltenberg gave praise to Nato’s success in arranging the new consignment of ammunition. “This demonstrates that NATO’s tried and tested structures for joint procurement are delivering,” said the Secretary General. 

Nato’s Defence Production Action Plan was agreed by Allied leaders in July 2023, and under its auspices the NSPA has already agrees contracts for nearly $10bn of ammunition. Individual NSPA contracts include the procurement of 1000 Patriot missiles for $5.5bn, and the purchase of 155mm artillery, anti-tank guided missiles and tank ammunition for $4bn. Later in 2024, Nato will sign a contract doe six E-7A Wedgetail aircraft as part of a contract the NSPA arranged in November 2023.