In a tactical move, Paris has declared its intention to triple its monthly provision of 155mm shells to Ukraine starting from 2024. The current monthly supply is at 1,000 artillery shells. The French Armed Forces Minister, Sébastien Lecorneau, announced that the beginning of the new year would witness a surge in the monthly consignment to 3,000 units. This announcement was made during his comprehensive interview with the renowned newspaper, Le Progres. Lecorneau also underscored France’s commitment to Ukraine by revealing that they had trained approximately 6,000 Ukrainian servicemen, with a primary focus on land warfare tactics.
Regarding the refurbishment of SPHs, the French Defense Minister recently confirmed that the 18 Caesar self-propelled howitzers, which have been assisting Ukraine since the inception of their conflict, are scheduled for an overhaul and will subsequently strengthen French artillery. In a discussion with Le Progres, Sebastien Lecorneau, the French Minister of Armed Forces, revealed that 18 new 155-mm self-propelled artillery units Caesar are slated to join the French forces in 2024. These units are designed to replace those that were deployed to Ukraine.
Lecorneau pointed out that the production rate of Caesar’s self-propelled guns has escalated since the commencement of the Ukrainian conflict. “Our manufacturing capacity has expanded from two to four units per month to six, and we project to produce eight units by 2024,” he stated. Moreover, he asserted that this increased production will not only meet our export commitments but also enable us to recover the cost of the 18 artillery installations dispatched to Ukraine by 2024. He also mentioned that the first self-propelled guns are due to arrive for the French forces this month.
In a significant move, France has dispatched Caesar self-propelled guns and Crotale anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. The shipment also included armored vehicles and AMX-10 RC light-wheeled tanks, substantially boosting Kyiv’s military strength. Over the past few tumultuous months, France has steadfastly supported Ukraine, providing it with a diverse array of weapons. These encompass Milan anti-tank missiles, Mistral man-portable air-defense systems, and the Franco-Italian SAMP/T air defense systems, commonly known as Mamba.
Cost Implications The financial burden on French taxpayers and leadership of tripling the supply of 155mm shells to Ukraine remains unclear. However, according to our report earlier this month, the cost of this type of projectile, manufactured jointly by Spain and Germany, has tripled. Rheinmetall, a prominent German defense firm, recently announced another contract from the German government for the production of artillery ammunition. As per the contract, production will include over 100,000 units of 155-mm ammunition, to be produced by Expal, a company Rheinmetall acquired from Spain in November 2022. The company’s announcement about the contract underscored the “over 100,000” units and spotlighted the DM121 – a recent innovation whose production commenced only in 2017.
‘Million Euro’ Range By the end of 2022, approximately 62,000 rounds of such ammunition had been produced. As per their 2019 contract, the Bundeswehr paid 3.4 thousand euros for each unit, indicating the cost of this innovative product. The newly revealed contract details provide some insight into the current cost of 155mm ammunition. Rheinmetall suggested a figure in the “high hundred million euro” range. These figures imply that the current contract could involve an estimated cost of around 500 million euros for 100,000 units of 155-mm ammunition. Even a conservative estimate of 400 million euros for the 100,000 shells would suggest a cost of €4,000 per shell.