BAE Systems, maker of UK Navy warplanes and ships, has signed an agreement that will allow British-designed artillery to be built in Ukraine.
Following a meeting in Kyiv between the chief Charles Woodburn, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier this week, the FTSE 100 defense giant has agreed on setting up a legal entity.
Woodburn stated that the agreement “allows us to work together in order to provide more direct assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” as a sign of BAE’s plans to investigate local manufacturing and direct dealings with the Ukrainian Army.
Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s Minister for Strategic Industry, said: “I am grateful to BAE Systems, for their bold decision to stand with us and build the future of Ukrainian defence industry in the fight against Russian aggressors.
Together with the company, I believe we can localise production of advanced weapons.
In the month of February, officials laid the foundations for British weapons and military vehicles that will be manufactured in Ukraine. The plans would deepen the country’s relationship with Nato.
Local manufacturing could help Ukraine plan better and reduce its dependence on stockpiles donated by the West.
It is still to be determined the exact structure of any manufacturing agreement.
Ukrainian arms companies can build BAE guns under license or assemble locally parts manufactured elsewhere. Joint ventures are another option.
For security reasons, if a local plant is built it will be after extensive research. Its location would also likely remain a secret.
BAE makes many of the weapons and hardware that are donated by Western governments to Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
Sweden sent 51 CV90 armoured cars made by BAE. The US donated 50 Bradley fighting vehicle, which were manufactured in the US. The UK sent 14 Challenger 2 tanks manufactured by the company.
BAE announced that it would “explore” the direct supply of light weapons to Ukraine, instead of relying on donations from Western allies.
The company will consult with Armed Forces Ukraine in order to better understand their needs and to help develop Ukraine’s industry base for weapon manufacturing.
Local manufacturers are expected to target the L119 Howitzers as a first priority. The L119 howitzers are light enough to tow by a truck or be lifted by helicopter. Every day, except Sundays, a similar gun marks One O’Clock in Edinburgh Castle.
In a press release, President Zelenskyy stated: “We are very grateful when private companies set up offices in our country during such a period.” This is an important sign of support for the Ukrainian people.
Mr Woodburn stated: “We’ve discussed with President Zelensky’s team, along with our government clients, how we can best develop the support we already provide to Ukraine.
Signing the agreements and creating a legal entity is a continuation of our trust and support.
Western defense companies are strengthening ties with Ukraine amid indications that the war could continue for years.
Rheinmetall, German manufacturer of the popular Leopard Tank, has already announced that it will build an armored vehicle plant in Ukraine. This follows a May deal signed with Ukraine’s State-owned Conglomerate Ukroboronprom.
According to reports, Germany’s largest arms manufacturer plans to produce 400 Panther main battle tanks per year in Ukraine.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of the Russian Security Council, responded to this partnership by threatening a bombing raid on Rheinmetall’s factories.
In March, Mr Medvedev stated on a messaging platform: “The decision must be met with a salvo of cruise missiles or other Russian pyrotechnics.”
BAE announced the agreement just days after Ukraine signed an agreement with Sweden to produce, operate, and provide support for BAE CV90 armoured vehicle.
The CV90 is a competitor to the Ajax, which has been troubled in the UK. It features a 40mm gun, grenades, and machine guns, and is one the most popular armoured vehicles in Europe. The vehicle has been purchased by Sweden, Norway Finland, Denmark, Estonia Slovakia, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.