Ottawa asks manufacturers for plans to increase shell production

(Ottawa) The federal government is granting millions of dollars to two weapons manufacturers to develop a strategy to produce more 155mm shells in Canada as the war in Ukraine drags on.

National Defense Minister Bill Blair made the announcement Thursday in a speech to the Conference of Defense Associations Institute in Ottawa. Mr. Blair said $4.4 million will be provided to IMT Defense and General Dynamics to develop detailed proposals to manufacture more 155 mm artillery shells in Canada.

The investments are made to General Dynamics in its plants in Repentigny and Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, near Montreal, and to IMT Defense in Ingersoll, Ontario.

“We have donated tens of thousands of NATO-standard 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine,” Mr. Blair said. But Ukraine needs a lot more ammunition – and, frankly, so does Canada and the (Canadian Armed Forces). »

During a mid-morning debate on NATO, European and Canadian experts agreed that munitions are Ukraine’s most pressing short-term need. Several of Canada’s allies have already signed agreements to increase their production.

NATO signed a $1.2 billion deal at the end of January, through its Support and Procurement Agency, to produce around 220,000 artillery shells, bringing its total spending to more than $4 billion. 155 mm shell. Countries contributing to these agreements will strengthen their supplies or provide their own munitions to Ukraine. Canada is not one of these contributing countries.

In a January 25 statement, Department of Defense spokesperson Alex Tétreault said: “We continue to maintain the ammunition stocks necessary to meet the long-term operational and training commitments” of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Prepare production lines

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

Minister Blair said Thursday that Canada’s production capacity has now increased from 3,000 to 5,000 shells per month, thanks to an injection of 4.8 million last year – the first increase in production capacity since the invasion large-scale attack on Ukraine by Russia in February 2022.

But cost estimates for bolstering domestic M795 production capacity are nearly 100 times that sum.

A senior Defense Department official told a Commons committee in November that General Dynamics and IMT Defense had provided initial spending estimates of $200 million at the end of 2022, then increased them to $400 million.

However, these costs do not include any ammunition actually produced: they only provide for changes made on manufacturers’ production lines.

Troy Crosby, assistant deputy minister of defense for materiel, also told MPs on the Standing Committee on Defense that industry estimates suggest it could take three years for a production line to be operational in Canada.

Minister Blair’s speech and accompanying press release do not specify whether the 4.4 million announced Thursday are aimed at planning the production of the more popular M795 shells or the M107.


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