Canada asking weapons makers for plans to ramp up ammunition production

The Canadian Press   

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OTTAWA – Canada is giving two weapons manufacturers millions of dollars to come up with a plan to make more 155 mm ammunition as the war in Ukraine drags on.

Defence Minister Bill Blair made the announcement in a speech to the Conference of Defence Associations Institute in Ottawa on Thursday.

He said $4.4 million will go to IMT Defence and General Dynamics to develop detailed proposals to increase production.

“We’ve donated tens of thousands of rounds of NATO-standard, 155 mm artillery ammunition to Ukraine. But Ukraine needs much more ammunition _ and quite frankly, so does Canada and the (Canadian Armed Forces),” Blair said.


During a mid-morning panel about NATO, experts from Europe and Canada alike concurred that Ukraine’s most urgent need in the short term is more ammunition.

Several of Canada’s allies have already signed deals to increase their own production.

NATO signed a US$1.2-billion deal in late January through its Support and Procurement Agency to produce around 220,000 rounds, bringing its total spend on 155 mm ammunition to more than US$4 billion.

Contributing nations to those agreements will either shore up their own supplies or provide the ammunition to Ukraine.

Canada is not one of those contributing nations.

In a statement on Jan. 25, Defence Department spokesman Alex Tetreault said, “We continue to sustain the stocks of ammunition necessary to meet the long-term training and operational commitments of the CAF.”

Canadian manufacturers produce a variant of the 155 mm shell known as the M107, which is shorter-range and considered less desirable than the M795.

Blair said Canada’s production capacity is now up to 5,000 shells per month from 3,000, thanks to a $4.8-million dollar spend last year _ the first increase in production capacity since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

But cost estimates for building domestic production capacity of the M795 rounds are nearly 100 times that.

A senior Defence Department official told a House of Commons committee in November that General Dynamics and IMT Defence provided initial cost estimates of $200 million in late 2022, and later revised them to $400 million.

That price tag doesn’t include any actual ammunition.

Troy Crosby, the assistant deputy minister of materiel, also told MPs on the defence committee that industry estimates suggest it could take three years to get a production line up and running.

Blair’s speech and an accompanying news release did not say whether the $4.4 million announced Thursday is aimed at planning for production of the M795 rounds or the M107.


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