Introducing the 20th edition of Rheinmetall Defence Talks, which took place in Berlin 5-7 December 2022, Oliver Hoffmann, the company spokesman, underlined the changings that are affecting the world in numerous areas, from economy to the struggle for resources, from energy issues to the emerging disorder.
Looking at NATO nations total expenditures for defence, while these remained relatively stable in the 2014-18 period, the estimated 2022 figure is over 23% higher than that of 2018, US$ 1.268 trillion versus 1.029 trillion. With many countries aiming at the 2% GDP defence budget target, other even to 2.5 or 3%, Rheinmetall looks at possible new successes in home markets as well as in new markets. Germany is looking at acquiring ammunition, trucks, wheeled armoured vehicles in 8×8 and 6×6 configurations, a second batch of Pumas being also expected, while digitisation will continue to be pursued. The Düsseldorf-based company is awaiting the selection of the new tracked IFV by Australia as part of Land 400 Phase 3, and is also looking at the Land 125 Soldier System programme, eyeing the Navy for ammunition and other projects that are worth overall over € 400 million. A third batch of Boxers might come up in the United Kingdom, where Rheinmetall has in place a framework contract for ammunition. As for Hungary, following the success with its Lynx IFV, the German defence group is promoting its capabilities in the soldier system and digitisation area, in that of loitering munitions, following its teaming with UVision of Israel, and in the explosive domain. Two countries are attracting the Rheinmetall interest in southern Europe. One is Italy, the Army aiming at replacing its Dardo tracked infantry fighting vehicles and at a later date, its Ariete main battle tank, a € 8 billion budget being forecasted in the next 10 years. Greece is the other Mediterranean country targeted by Rheinmetall, which recently provided 40 Marder IFVs to replace BMPs delivered by Athens to Ukraine. This is seen as an interim solution, the Lynx having already been demonstrated and tested in Q3 2022 to the Greek Army. Athens is also looking at an upgrade of its Leopard 2 fleet, the process being currently in definition, the Greek market being estimated at € 3.5 billion.
Demand for ammunition is particularly strong in these days. Many countries have reacted quickly and have already placed orders with various ammunition makers. “But current production capacity is no match for current demand. We need to catch up here. On the one hand, heavy consumption of ammunition due to the war in Ukraine is making the situation even more difficult. At the same time, more and more countries are trying to meet the NATO goal of having enough ammunition for 30 days of intense combat,” Mr. Hoffmann stated, and this led to the recent acquisition of Spanish Expal by the Düsseldorf group. With six facilities in Spain, active in the production of ammunition for artillery, mortar, medium calibre, and air armament, bombs and rockets, as well as in that of light, medium and heavy mortars and related equipment, and in the fuse and rocket motors domains, Expal adds considerable capabilities to the Rheinmetall portfolio, not forgetting the Demil facility present in the United States. Created in 1872, Expal has about 800 employees “and expects to have sales of €400 million next year, its portfolio covering a wide spectrum, perfectly complementing Rheinmetall’s existing product range both horizontally and vertically,” the company spokesman added.
Showing a series of charts, Mr. Hoffmann underlined the considerable increase in the ammunition production capability that the Spanish company will bring to the group. In the artillery field ther annual production capacity of Rheinmetall was slightly over 100,000 pieces a year, the Expal addition bringing this figure to over 350,00, more than trebling the potential output. Looking at mortar and medium calibre ammunition the annual production capability will double, from half million to over one million for mortars, and from one to two millions in medium calibres. “We are already producing ammunition in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, South Africa and Australia, and Spain will now be another important Group location for making ammunition,” Mr. Hoffmann concluded. According to information obtained by EDR On-Line the acquisition of Expal has been closed in a pretty short time, under one year, which shows well the importance given by the German group to this operation. The Spanish company, as seen in the aforementioned numbers, has a considerable production capacity, most of its ammunition filling lines being dedicated to conventional explosive, which makes it complementary to the RWM Italia business, which is more specialised in polymer bonded explosive (PBX) filling, used in the production of insensitive munitions. Therefore the new acquisition not only increases the potential ammunition production of the Rheinmetall group, but also ensures the availability of products of different kind.
Photos courtesy Rheinmetall and Expal