Thales Ramps Up Rocket Production at its Herstal Site in Bel
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This news is classified in: Defense Combat Vehicles / Artillery

Jul 2, 2024

Thales Ramps Up Rocket Production at its Herstal Site in Belgium to Support European Defence

  • Thales has opened a new assembly line to accommodate a five-fold increase in the production of 70-mm laser-guided rockets at its Herstal site in Belgium. The move is part of a wide-ranging research and development programme supported by the Walloon Region.
  • The new capacity is a major step in a EUR20 million investment plan launched in 2023 and boosted by the support of the Belgian government and the European Union's Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP) plan.
  • The inauguration was attended by the Belgian Minister of Defence, Ludivine Dedonder.
  • By ramping up production, Thales is helping strengthen the ammunition capabilities of Europe's armed forces

Thales Belgium, the European leader in 70-mm rocket systems, has inaugurated a new production line at its Herstal site, a few months after the Belgian Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder signed a letter of intent expressing her support for the ramp-up of Thales’s ordnance production activities. The higher production rates will make it possible to respond faster to the ammunition requirements of the armed forces. The rocket is the NATO-standard 70-mm (2.75 inch) calibre currently being used in Ukraine.

In the space of less than a year, Thales Belgium has laid the groundwork for increased production of 70-mm rockets to meet the needs of European armed forces. Thales Belgium is the only manufacturer of these munitions in Europe. To boost output, the Group has hired more than 50 new staff, strengthened the supply chain and moved towards vertical integration of a number of additional activities. Production capacity will increase from 1,000 guided rockets to 5,000 by 2025.

The rockets developed by Thales Belgium offer a high level of interoperability and resistance to jamming and can be deployed by many types of manned and unmanned land, air and naval platforms. They are also suitable for use by drone countermeasures systems and to support ground-to-ground strike capabilities.

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"The expansion of the 70 mm rocket production line responds to rapidly growing international demand, as well as to the needs of Defense, due to a worrying global security situation. In the face of today's geopolitical challenges, this initiative contributes to strengthening Belgium's strategic autonomy and guaranteeing peace and security in Europe. Thales’ s choice of Belgium for this expansion reinforces the R&D cooperation agreement signed with the Ministry of Defense in November 2023. ? It also highlights the exceptional skills of Walloon workers in the field of precision technologies. This inauguration perfectly illustrates my commitment to Defense, industry, and our country's economy in the service of our national and international security", Statement by Ludivine Dedonder, Minister of Defense.

"The geopolitical context in which we live today forces us to review our priorities and adapt. I would like to underline the involvement of Thales Belgium, which is responding to the needs expressed by the European armed forces. With this new production line, Thales Belgium will increase its production capacity of 70mm rockets by a factor of 5 between now and 2025. ? When it comes to defense, Wallonia's potential is unquestionable. We need to step up collaboration between the federal government and Wallonia to position Walloon industry as effectively as possible in defense markets, as well as in European and NATO programs", Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia and Minister for the Economy, Research and Innovation.

“The inauguration of this new production line at the Thales site in Herstal demonstrates the Group's commitment to constant innovation and investment in strategic production capacities for Europe. Supported by the Belgian government and the European Commission as part of its Act in Support of Ammunition Production (ASAP), Thales Belgium is making its expertise as European leader in 70mm rocket systems available to the European armed forces”, said Hervé Dammann, Executive Vice President, Land and Air Systems, Thales.