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Why Artillery Shells Germany Gives Ukraine in the New €1.3 Billion Aid Package Are More Important Than IRIS-T Systems

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155mm artillery ammunition / Illustrative photo credit: Bundeswehr
155mm artillery ammunition / Illustrative photo credit: Bundeswehr

Despite difficulties, Europe gradually cranks up the production of 155mm artillery ammunition, which is particularly evident in the fact Germany sends more ammunition this time than ever before

Germany's Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius during his visit to Kyiv announced a new tranche of military aid of total value EUR 1.3 billion. This substantial provision includes four additional IRIS-T air defense systems, 20,000 artillery rounds in the 155mm caliber, anti-tank mines, etc.

The promised weapons are not fast to be delivered, however. Some of the assets are yet to be produced.

Read more: The US Department of Defense Announced a New Security Assistance Package to Ukraine
IRIS-T in Ukraine
IRIS-T system in Ukraine / Photo credit: Ukrainian Air Force Command

In particular, the IRIS-T anti-aircraft missile systems are still in the making, apparently. Last week, German ambassador in Ukraine Martin Jaeger said three IRIS-T systems had already been deployed, and two more were to arrive by the end of this year. This means the newly pledged four systems will come no sooner than 2024.

On the other hand, the artillery ammunition will get to the frontlines much faster. Provided that official plans aim to send 140,000 shells overall in 2024, hence this batch of 20 thousand should be the one to arrive in the short term.

This is an important figure because this could be the largest one-time provision of 155mm ammunition from Germany so far. Records from the Federal Government say 19,530 high-explosive and combined 20,872 illumination and smoke screen artillery rounds have been delivered in total since the beginning of the russian invasion of Ukraine last year.

That is, despite Europe earlier acknowledging it couldn't meet the ambitious goal of producing 1 mln artillery shells by March 2024, the steady progress in this direction is evident nonetheless.

NATO 155mm ammunition is phasing out the old 152mm caliber in the Ukrainian military
NATO 155mm ammunition is phasing out the old 152mm caliber in the Ukrainian military / Illustrative photo credit: UK Ministry of Defense
Read more: Why Europe Failed: EU Acknowledged They Cannot Implement the Plan of Producing 1 Million Artillery Shells for Ukraine by March