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Ottawa wants weapons manufacturers to supply it with more shells

Photo: Sean Kilpatrick The Canadian Press Minister Bill Blair announced Thursday that Ottawa will pay millions of dollars to two weapons manufacturers to develop a plan to make more ammunition in Canada.

Sarah Ritchie – The Canadian Press in Ottawa

4:51 p.m.

  • Canada

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.< /p>

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 at its plants in Repentigny and 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]. »

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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 in late January, through its Support and Acquisition Agency, to produce approximately 220,000 artillery shells, carrying its total expenditure on 155mm shells is more than $4 billion. Countries contributing to these agreements will increase 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.

Preparing 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 of production capacity since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

But cost estimates for boosting 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 in late 2022 and then moved them forward. increased to $400 million.

However, these costs do not include any ammunition actually produced: they only provide for changes made on the 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 is aimed at planning the production of the more popular M795 shells or the M107.

Note to readers: This is a corrected version. An earlier version said the deputy defense minister told the Commons committee it would cost $400 million to ramp up production.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116