Germany to Spend €20bn on Ammunition
The Bundeswehr has had a shortage of artillery ammunition for many years. Now the troops have a significant number of Panzerhaubitze2000 artillery systems ready for use, of which 14 have already been transferred to Ukraine this year.
Spiegel reported this.
However, shells are so scarce that artillerymen in the rear are rarely allowed to train with live ammunition. For example, when the Minister of Defence or the Federal Chancellor visits. Otherwise, soldiers have to make do with training ammunition.
For a long time, this emptiness in the ammunition depots did not bother the leaders of the Ministry of Defence. After the unification, a new land war in Central Europe was virtually ruled out. Politicians saved on troops wherever they could. This principle was called the peace dividend. However, in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the negligence of the past few decades became a problem: If the ammunition depots had been better stocked, the German government could have offered Ukraine much more artillery ammunition, which it desperately needed.
That is why Federal Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius (SPD) and leaders of the German arms industry are working on a turnaround in ammunition purchases. "Without ammunition, the most advanced weapon systems are useless, even if they are ready for action. That is why a sustainable supply of ammunition is a top priority. We need and want to invest more than 20 billion euros in ammunition by 2031," Pistorius said.
The German government has recently unwittingly made public just how dramatic the situation is. For several months after the war in Ukraine began, Berlin tried to keep the exact number of artillery shells available a secret. Even parliamentarians were brushed off with the remark that disclosure would threaten the welfare of the state. But then, a few weeks ago, the finance department mentioned in a confidential submission to the Bundestag that the army currently has only about 20,000 155mm shells.
This information caused an international outcry. That's because, according to NATO specifications, the Bundeswehr should actually have enough ammunition to allow artillerymen to last in intense combat for 30 days. For this, they will need at least 230,000 shells. Officially, this rule will not be in effect until 2031, but NATO strategists were still somewhat shocked at how empty German ammunition depots were.
But now there is some light at the end of the tunnel. In June, almost 16 months after the war began, the Bundestag approved several multibillion-dollar framework contracts for artillery and tank ammunition to supply both the German and Ukrainian armed forces. The first batches of 20,000 shells have been announced for this year and next year. "We will not stop there and will implement other projects," explained Pistorius. Overall, he wants to spend a billion euros on ammunition this year.