Germany and its allies need more ammunition for their own troops and to support Ukraine; That is why the arms company Rheinmetall wants to significantly expand its production. A new artillery ammunition factory will be built on the current site of Unterlüß (Celle district) in the Lüneburg Heath. On Monday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, together with Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (both SPD), company head Armin Papperger, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, held the symbolic opening ceremony of the plant. , which will be completed in just twelve months of construction. The defense company announced that production should begin next year.

Scholz sees important sign: Rheinmetall shares rise to all-time high

“This investment lays the foundation for an independent and, above all, permanent supply of artillery ammunition to the Bundeswehr and our partners in Europe,” said Scholz, head of the arms company. This is particularly important with a view to Ukraine and its ammunition needs. “Until now we have managed by handing over much of what we had,” explained the Chancellor. But this is becoming less and less possible. “It is important that we do everything possible to increase production around the world.” The new Rheinmetall plant is an important signal in this regard.

The arms company's shares reached a new all-time high on Monday with an increase of almost four percent, thus placing themselves in the upper group of the DAX.

Scholz calls for increased weapons production

“For too long, arms policy in Germany has been carried out as if it were a question of buying a car,” complains Scholz. “But that's not how weapons production works! If nothing is ordered for years, nothing will be produced.” That's why it's even more important to quickly ramp up production now. “We have to move away from manufacturing and towards large-scale weapons production,” Scholz said. “This is the only way to plan and procure sustainably. Only in this way can we achieve our goal of making the Bundeswehr once again one of the most capable conventional armed forces in Europe.”

The head of the company, Papperger, explained that with the new Rheinmetall plant he wanted to help the Bundeswehr fill empty warehouses when purchasing ammunition and become independent from supplies from abroad. “We do this out of responsibility and the willingness to make a significant contribution to the defense capability of our country and our NATO partners with our technologies,” he said. “This is of strategic importance not only for Rheinmetall, but also for the Federal Republic of Germany and Europe.” The huge consumption of ammunition in Ukraine is making the situation even worse. And this is not just a German problem, added the Prime Minister of Denmark, who joined the meeting at short notice. “The war in Ukraine concerns us all.”

Up to 200,000 grenades will be produced per year

In 2025, the new “Lower Saxony plant” will initially produce 50,000 artillery shells, in 2026 100,000 and later 200,000 per year. It mainly produces 155-millimeter artillery shells, as well as explosives and components for rocket artillery. The group wants to invest 300 million euros in the new factory and 500 jobs will be created.

The investment is part of Rheinmetall's plan to significantly increase ammunition production. Before the Russian attack on Ukraine almost two years ago, the arms company only produced a total of 70,000 artillery shells a year in Germany, Spain, South Africa and Australia, a spokesman said. Now there are 400,000 and next year it should be 700,000.

Unterlüß is already the largest production center of the arms company; Here, in addition to ammunition, military vehicles such as the Puma infantry fighting vehicle are also manufactured. Rheinmetall currently has 2,500 employees at its facilities. Artillery ammunition is also manufactured here, but on a much smaller scale, 30,000 to 40,000 shells per year and only as final assembly from delivered parts.

The federal government guarantees acceptance

A company spokesperson said there was already a guarantee of acceptance from the federal government for the new plant, which is expected to produce five to six times as many pomegranates. “Otherwise, no one would make such an investment.” Rheinmetall bears the construction costs alone. In his speech, Scholz referred to his commitment to spend two percent of gross domestic product on defense. “The Bundeswehr and industry can rely on this promise.”