EU cannot produce more ammunition for Ukraine due to shortage of explosives – FT
European attempts to produce more ammunition for Ukraine are hampered by a shortage of explosives. This could delay efforts to ramp up shell production by three years.
Shortages of gunpowder, plastic explosives and TNT have left the industry unable to quickly fulfill expected EU orders for Ukraine, according to officials and manufacturers. Moreover, the issue of finance does not play any role in overcoming the deficit.
Europe has limited stocks of explosives
“The fundamental problem is that the European defense industry is not capable of producing military products on a large scale,” said one German official.
Jiří Ginek, head of the Defense and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic, stressed that it is very difficult to increase the production of artillery ammunition without raw materials.
It is very difficult to increase the production of artillery ammunition, especially heavy, large-caliber ones, in a short time. It is very easy to build a new artillery factory, but how to produce more artillery shells without raw materials,” Jiří Ginek said.
Defense industry officials say Europe has limited stocks of explosives such as gunpowder, TNT and nitrocellulose needed to make shells.
“It is not possible to increase the production of nitrocellulose in a short time… In Europe there are no important producers of the raw materials that we need. If I want to increase the production of gunpowder, I need probably three years,” said Hynek.
Explosia, a Czech state-owned manufacturer and one of Europe's largest suppliers of explosives to munitions factories, said its production of propellants used in 155mm artillery “is operating at full capacity.” So they noted that production will not be increased by 2026.
This week, the Romanian government said it was in talks with US and South Korean companies to build a gunpowder factory in the country.
Fábrica Municiones de Granada (FMG), one of two Spanish manufacturers of 155mm artillery, has been operating at full capacity since October last year, producing shells for a trading company that sells them to Ukraine.
However, FMG CEO Antonio Caro said the expansion took 4 to 5 months due to difficulties in obtaining key materials and components.
Ammo cost increased by 20%
The cost of basic materials has doubled, and in some cases tripled, he said. This growth and surge in demand led to an increase in the price of ammunition, although this increase was less noticeable.
He said that a typical projectile today costs 850 euros, about 20% more than before the Russian invasion.
FMG, owned by the Slovak MSM group, has no plans to increase capacity. MSM also manufactures 155mm shells in Slovakia and said it plans to build a new production facility to increase the production of artillery shells, but declined to give a timeline.
Russia also has problems with ammunition
- According to British intelligence, the situation with the shortage of artillery ammunition in Russia has become even more tense in recent weeks. Many sectors of the front use very restrictive regulations on the use of ammunition.
- This, according to intelligence, has led to the fact that recently not a single Russian formation is capable of conducting operationally significant offensive operations.
- But the problem is that stocks of even obsolete shells are starting to decrease, which poses a serious threat to the Russian army.