The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted BAE Systems for ammunition production in a contract worth £280m ($361.3m) on 11 July 2023.

Initially capped at £280m, there is an option to increase the order to more than £400m.

This deal builds on the existing £2.4bn 15-year parterning agreement between the MoD and BAE Systems. The new orders will increase the production of vital ammunition stocks, such as 155mm artillery shells, 30mm medium calibre rounds and 5.56mm ammunition.

Key investments are already underway to enable the increased manufcaturing rate. This includes: an additional 155mm machining line in Washington, Tyne & Wear; a new explosive filling facility at Glascoed, South Wales; and a re-investment of the 30mm medium calibre manufacturing capability in Washington and Glascoed.

“We’re incredibly proud of our role in delivering equipment to protect our armed forces and as the UK MoD’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,” Charles Woodburn, BAE Systems CEO, stated.

Nato summit and a new investment pledge

Welcoming US President Joe Biden at the Nato Summit in Vilnius on 11 July, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that a new defence investment pledge, a stronger target than the existing 2% GDP pledge, will send a clear message to Ukraine that “we stand by them as long as needed” and that another major message from the Summit will be that “we need to invest more in our defence”.

In the lead up to the summit, which is taking place 11-12 July, members have been keen to demonstrate efforts of their defence investment – a key concern currently plaguing the military alliance as it sponsors Ukraine’s resistance against invading Russian forces.

For example, Sweden ordered Skr3bn ($276.9m) worth of ammunition for the recoilless Carl-Gustaf M4 rifle from Saab at the end of May, just one effort toward achieving Nato’s defence investment target of 2% of a coutnry’s GDP. Now, as of the 10 July, the country has finally joined Nato.

In the case of the UK, one of Ukraine’s largest donators of military aid, has made efforts to ramp up its own production of ammunition stockpiles.

Lately, ammunition has been a key concern for many Nato countries, particularly across Europe. EU institutions – specifically the European Parliament and Council – have even agreed to fast-track a regulation under the Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) on 7 July 2023.

The European Defence Agency has also started a round-robin test to assess the safety and reliability of the ammunition stocks of its member states. The UK’s latest efforts, through its domestic partner supplier BAE Systems, is just one way to demonstrate the country’s efforts to bolster its armed services with the equipment its needs.