As she prepared to address the United Nations, Liz Truss last week pledged the UK to spend at least £2.3billion next year on military aid to help Ukraine push back Kremlin forces. The promise came as Vladimir Putin sought to mobilize 300,000 reservists in hopes their numbers could overcome the combination of Ukrainian resolve and Western weaponry.
Ukraine therefore still has a great need for ammunition. It burns through thousands of shells and rockets every day, but Britain’s arms industry has yet to receive the orders it needs to ramp up production and meet Truss’ pledge.
Much of the UK’s munitions stock is built by BAE Systems, Britain’s largest defense contractor. An agreement to develop production is expected, but has not yet been signed.
The popular shoulder-fired NLAW anti-tank missile was designed by Sweden’s Saab and manufactured by France’s Thales at a factory in Northern Ireland. He is also awaiting a contract renewal after Ukraine received 5,000 NLAW from the UK. .
The NLAW joined thousands of javelins, sulfur and other anti-tank weapons, 16,000 artillery shells, hundreds of missiles and six Stormer vehicles equipped with Starstreak anti-aircraft missile launchers en route to the Ukrainian front.
Helmets and body armor also came out of UK stock, along with 400,000 rounds of small arms.
Much of the ammunition donated, such as 155 mm shells, is used to power the dozens of NATO howitzers such as the M777s supplied by the United States, the French Caesars and the German PzH 2000s.
More of the same is likely to be donated by the UK, according to Tom Waldwyn, associate researcher for defense procurement at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.
“The UK is likely to continue the kinds of military aid it began in 2022, which were mainly training Ukrainian troops in partnership with allies and donating anti-tank weapons, man-portable air defense systems, artillery and weapons. armored vehicles,” he said. said.
“Ukraine certainly needs more of all these things, along with the humanitarian aid that the UK is also providing. So far the UK and other countries have drawn heavily on their stockpiles of equipment and ammunition to supply Ukraine due to the urgency of the situation.
This risks stretching supplies which are already low compared to yesterday, says defense analyst Francis Tusa.
“The problem is that our stocks were so low. When we arrived, the closet was almost empty,” he says.