by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the General Manager of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, Stacy Cummings at the signing ceremony for a major new investment in artillery ammunition

  • 23 Jan. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 23 Jan. 2024 15:05

(As delivered)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg:

So good morning. I am pleased to be here today with the General Manager of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, Stacy Cummings – welcome to you.

The NSPA enables NATO Allies to acquire, operate, and maintain critical capabilities for our security. So Stacy, thank you for the critical work that you and the Agency do.

We have just concluded contracts worth 1.2 billion US dollars to buy hundreds of thousands of rounds of 155-millimetre artillery ammunition.

This demonstrates that NATO’s tried and tested structure for joint procurement is delivering.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has become a battle for ammunition so it is important that Allies refill their own stocks, as we continue to support Ukraine.

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency enables Allies to pull together and pool their resources. To give them the weapons and ammunition we need to keep our countries safe.
Since we agreed NATO’s Defence Production Action Plan last July, the NSPA has agreed contracts worth around 10 billion US dollars.

This includes around 4 billion dollars for howitzer shells, tank ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles and 155-millimetre ammunition, together with 5.5 billion dollars for Patriot interceptor missiles.

This is a significant boost for our transatlantic defence industry, helping us to meet our own security needs while continuing to provide vital support for Ukraine.

Today I will chair a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, focused on how we can further step up our industrial production. And NATO Defence Ministers will address this again when they meet next month.

This week will also see the start of Exercise Steadfast Defender - the largest NATO exercise in decades with approximately 90,000 forces from all 31 Allies and Sweden.

This Article 5 exercise is a clear demonstration of our transatlantic unity and strength and our determination to continue to do whatever is necessary to protect and defend each other. That includes making sure we have the right forces, capabilities and ammunition.

So I welcome Allies’ commitment to make major new investments. Again, I want to thank Stacy and the NATO Support and Procurement Agency for everything they do to make this possible.

Thank you.

General Manager of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, Stacy Cummings:

Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. It is important that we invest in robust supply chains capable of delivering against new and urgent requirements. Multi-year multinational contracts provide a clear demand signal to industry to do just that. This in turn creates incentives for investments in industrial production capacity. 

When working with NSPA, nations benefit from economies of scale through a proven turnkey solution. These new contracts are an excellent example of Allies working together to create long term assured demand and support NATO's goal to strengthen production capacity in Europe. 

This is what we do at NSPA. We are the lead organization for multinational acquisition, sustainment and support to NATO. Ultimately, through our collaborative efforts, we bolster NATO's deterrence and defence capabilities. 

We are paving the way for innovative approaches to replenish stocks of ammunition, weapon systems and equipment across the Alliance. On behalf of the entire NSPA team. I thank you and the nations for your continued trust.


Acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White: Thank you we’ll go to questions. First from Deutsche Welle over here, please.

Teri Schultz (Deutsche Welle): Hi, thank you to both of you. Mr. Secretary General, does this new acquisition which admittedly won't arrive for more than a year to the Allies that are purchasing this, do you think that will encourage more shipments of ammunition to Ukraine? And does that indicate that actually they do have more they could send? Even though they've mostly said that their cupboards are bare. And what do you think about primarily the Baltic states’ push to change the slogan ‘we’ll stand by Ukraine, as long as it takes’ to ‘we’ll give Ukraine whatever it takes.’ And also for NSPA, what do you think about the progress toward standardising 155 millimetre ammunition? People like CMC, Rob Bauer have called for it for a long time, the military would be more useful in joint acquisitions like this. Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Increased production of ammunition is an absolute necessity to enable us to continue to provide support to Ukraine. Because so far we have dug into our stocks, but with the consumption of ammunition we see in Ukraine and the needs we see to continue to provide support to Ukraine, we need to ramp up production and that's exactly what the NATO allies are doing.

We agreed on the Defence Production Action Plan last July. Since then NSPA has signed contracts worth 10 billion US dollars. So these are important building blocks, important steps, towards delivering more but also producing more and to ensure that we have the necessary production capacity Allies need to sign contracts with industry.

We need to do more joint procurement as we do through the NSPA the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, and we need to adhere to NATO standards. Because adhering to standards ensures that we have are able to reduce costs, but also that we have ammunition and systems which are interoperable and interchangeable. So yes, this is important to defend our own territory, to build up our own stocks, but also to continue to support Ukraine.

We will support Ukraine with the systems and the weapons and the ammunition they need to prevail as a sovereign independent country, because we cannot allow President Putin to win in Ukraine. That will be a tragedy for Ukrainians, and dangerous for all of us.

NSPA General Manager Stacy Cummings: Thank you. Thank you for that question. The reason that we were able to put together this particular contract is because nations are using common and standard 155 ammunition, which allows them to work together to get economies of scale and send a very strong message to industry. As we look towards the weapons systems of tomorrow towards that next generation, this year, we've established an acquisition capability at NSPA. So that we have a focused effort on having a platform to allow nations to work together from the beginning of a lifecycle so that we don't have this issue of lack of standardisation in the future and we can buy systems as well as the ammunition that supports them together. So thanks for that question.

Acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White: Second and final question to Radio Free Europe, Ukrainian service.

Olena Abramovych (Radio Free Europe): Thank you for giving me the floor. I have a question regarding when can this ammunition actually get to battlefields in Ukraine? I understand that NATO doesn't supply it directly, but on a bilateral basis, but if you look at this processes of production, etc, etc. when do you expect it  - and  maybe which percentage because nations have to replenish their stocks as well. And Secretary General you personally, do you believe that in the nearest future – let’s say in the next decade – any Russian tanks can enter any European capital like in the Baltic states? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Russian forces?

Olena Abramovych (Radio Free Europe): Russian tanks or forces. I mean, will this ammunition be used, actually, in European states? Thank you.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: So first of all, Allies have all stepped up production. So there is increased flow of ammunition to Allies. And they use that increased production to partly replenish their own stocks, but also partly to enable continued delivery to Ukraine. So this is an ongoing process almost daily, at least weekly, Allies are delivering weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.

To increase production in the future, of course, enables us to continue to do so and that's why these contracts are so important. And maybe so, Stacy Cummings can say some more details about the exact timing but this is - for Allies - enabling them to protect themselves and continue to support Ukraine. Then we don't see any direct or imminent threat against any NATO Ally. And therefore, we, of course, monitor closely what Russia does, we have increased our vigilance, our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance, but the whole idea of that is to prevent an attack on a NATO Ally.

So when the full-fledged invasion of Ukraine happened in February last year in 2022 - almost two years ago - then it was clear for NATO that we had two tasks. One was to support Ukraine and NATO Allies are giving Ukraine unprecedented support and I'm confident they will continue to do so. The other task was of course, to prevent this war from escalating to full scale war between Russia and NATO. And we did that by deploying more combat troops to the eastern part of the Alliance, by further increasing our defence investments, and also by exercising more.

We will have the big exercise starting later this week, which will be the biggest exercise in decades for NATO, with 90,000 personnel participating. We do all of this to ensure that we have the readiness, the preparedness and the forces in place to remove any room for miscalculation or misunderstanding in Moscow about our readiness to protect every inch of NATO territory. And as long as we do that, there will be no attack against the NATO territory.

NSPA General Manager Stacy Cummings: The ammunition support partnership recently celebrated its 30th year and we have been supporting Allies throughout the years with contracts like the one that we announced the award of today. So today's contract will enable the delivery of 155 rounds to nations and the expected delivery time for orders placed today are within 24 to 36 months.

Acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White: That concludes this press point. Thank you very much.