Amendments to the export rules in Japan announced in December 2023 could have opened up an opportunity for the delivery of more vital artillery ammunition to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The rounds were to be produced in Japan under license from BAE Systems and go to the United Kingdom as replacements for those sent to Ukraine. However, implementation of the plan has stalled, The Washington Post reports.
"British officials looked into whether the U.K. military could use 155mm shells made by Komatsu [Japanese company - ed.] but decided to drop the idea before proposing it formally to the Japanese side, people familiar with the process said," according to the WSJ journalists.
As noted, the Japanese government speaker declined to comment, while a representative from the UK Defense Ministry said, " The U.K. and our partners continue to ensure that we equip Ukraine as best we can to defend its sovereign territory."
The plan encountered two key issues: first is the low production capacity on the part of the Japanese company, not able to keep up with replacement of shells sent abroad; and the second reason is the interoperability of projectiles made by different companies. Although all 155mm NATO shells should be interchangeable and compatible with guns adhering to the same standard, this interoperability still remains rather theoretical than practical, the authors note.
On a reminder from Defense Express, in summer 2023, the United States and Japan made a deal on supplies of industrial TNT so the American defense companies could use it to produce shells that could be transferred to Ukraine as well.