A senior executive from the security and aerospace behemoth Northrop Grumman on Monday said his firm plans to fabricate ammunition in Ukraine, in the first open-source announcement by a major American arms producer of intent to manufacture munitions in the country.

Dave Bartell, Director of International Business at Northrop Grumman Defense System (NG) made the comment at the Eurostatory arms show in Paris, and said Ukrainian defense funds would pay to set up the assembly line, which would produce “medium caliber” ammunition.

Stanley Brown, a US State Department official also speaking at the arms show, acknowledged Washington expects production to go forward and said a $2 billion US-financed Ukraine assistance program might help with financing.

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The security industry information group Breaking Defense broke the story and news of Bartell’s and Brown’s remarks, effectively confirming the first-ever American ammunition production line slated to operate inside Ukraine.

NG manufactures a range of shells, usually fired by chain gun cannon, in the calibers 25mm, 30mm, 40mm, & 50mm. NG hopes to expand that production capacity in Ukraine into tank ammunition and 155mm artillery ammunition, Bartell said.

Currently, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are known to operate US-made Bradley infantry fighting vehicles using 25mm cannon and shells manufactured by NG. The weapon is popular with troops for its reliability, accuracy and powerful warhead, which is sometimes able to take out a Russian tank. The Ukrainian Navy has mounted a small number of the chain guns on patrol boats.

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Turret equipped with the Northrop Grumman 25mm Bushmaster chain gun, a tested weapon in action in Ukraine since mid-2023. Soldiers from Ukraine’s 47th Mechanized Infantry Brigade have praised the cannon as reliable, accurate, fast-firing, and powerful enough to take out the most modern Russian tanks. Corporate photograph.

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The Ukrainian military widely uses a Soviet-era 30mm cannon and shell not produced previously by NG, and small numbers of Swedish-built Stridsfordon-90 infantry fighting vehicles equipped with a 40mm cannon manufactured by Bofors, a longtime Northrop Grumman competitor.

Bartell’s limited comments did not offer detail on what AFU weapons systems, aside from 25mm cannon, the assembly line to be set up in Ukraine might manufacture ammunition for.

According to the Breaking Defense article, NG in future hopes to expand Ukraine production to 155mm shells, but prefers to manufacture its own design rather than the US Army's current M795 or M1128 shells, both of which were extensively used by the Ukrainian army from May 2022 – December 2023.

The US cut off Ukraine from ammunition supplies at the end of 2023 because of Congressional unwillingness to finance further arms deliveries and political infighting. Congress reversed its ban on arms transfers to Ukraine in late April 2024.

Northrop Grumman is entering the Ukrainian market on the back of a growing presence in Poland. Its flagship project is an air defense command and control system designed to process information about possibly threatening incoming aircraft or missiles across hundreds of kilometers of air space, and to allow rapid decision-making on how to take the threats out.

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The system, called Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS), links together real-time data collected by military sensors like satellites, ground radars and even sightings by soldiers for review and analysis by technicians at workstations. A Defense News article called IBCS “the brain” of modern air defense and reported research and development cost $2.7 billion.

Polish soldiers prepare for Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) training at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. The US arms giant Northrop Grumman developed the IBCS for air defense commanders to have battlefield command and control networks fuse data collected by sensors ranging from ground radars to satellite imagery, to take on air attacks more quickly and efficiently. According to the manufacturer, two are operational in Poland, one by US forces and the other by the Polish military. The information networking system links workstations, computers, shelters and power equipment. Photo Credit: US Army.

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The Pentagon awarded Northrop Grumman $1.4 billion in 2021 to begin full-rate production of the IBCS system. First delivery of a production IBCS took place in December 2023 and by June 2024 the system was deployed to Poland, a June 17 corporate statement said.

The Polish military is integrating the IBCS system with its own forces as part of an investment into a fully modernized national medium-range air and missile defense network called Wisla, a corporate statement said.

Aside from air defense network technologies, Northrop Grumman supplies Warsaw with 30mm cannon and ammunition for Polish Army infantry fighting vehicles, and 25mm cannon and ammunition for Polish Air Force Apache attack helicopters.

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