Belgian Defence Partnership with FN Herstal: Enhancing Strategic Autonomy and Supply

Belgian Defence Partnership with FN Herstal: Enhancing Strategic Autonomy and Supply
On November 10, 2023, the Belgian government officially approved a long-term strategic partnership between Belgian Defence and FN Herstal, termed the "Partnership." Aligned with the DIRS and policies initiated in 2020 by the Belgian federal government and Minister of Defence, Ludivine Dedonder, this collaboration aims to enhance strategic autonomy and ensure the security of supply for the European Union and NATO.

The primary goals of the Partnership include securing the supply of small-calibre ammunition and maintaining the operational readiness of the Belgian army's small arms fleet for two decades. As part of Belgium's commitment to contributing to the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, this multinational framework is open to other European states, addressing their long-term ammunition requirements.

Julien Compère, CEO of FN Herstal, expressed his satisfaction, emphasizing the company's commitment to making a long-term industrial contribution to the defense strategy of Belgium, Europe, NATO, and their allies. The partnership involves substantial investments, including the installation of new ammunition production capacity at FN Herstal's industrial sites in Zutendaal and Herstal. The company is prepared to expand this capacity to meet the requirements of other countries, highlighting the quality of relations with European and NATO customers, particularly Belgian Defence.
Belgian Defence Partnership with FN Herstal: Enhancing Strategic Autonomy and Supply
Investments are already underway at Zutendaal and Herstal and are set to intensify in the coming months. These efforts will lead to a significant increase in ammunition production, reintroducing 5.56 and 7.62 calibre ammunition and creating over 60 jobs at both sites. The Partnership exclusively focuses on the defence small arms fleet, covering FN Herstal's product groups, including ammunition, portable weapons, and integrated weapon systems. It encompasses the supply, management, maintenance, and digitization of the small arms fleet, ammunition supply, and cutting-edge Research & Development aspects.

Beyond enhancing the security of supply and strategic autonomy of Belgian Defence, the collaboration aims to simplify administrative and financial management of the small arms fleet. FN Herstal, with its rich history dating back to 1889, is a global leader in small arms, renowned for designing, developing, and manufacturing small arms, associated ammunition, and integrated weapon systems for various applications. The company, headquartered in Herstal, Belgium, and formerly a vehicle manufacturer, dedicates a significant portion of its annual turnover to R&D, earning acclaim for product reliability and innovation. FN Herstal has played a pivotal role in creating and standardizing NATO calibres over the last 50 years, including the 5.56x45mm, 5.7x28mm, 7.62x51mm, and 12.7x99mm.

The Belgian Defence Partnership with FN Herstal marks a significant milestone, securing strategic autonomy and contributing to the defense capabilities of Belgium and its allies.

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