LONDON - The U.K. is ramping up its munitions manufacturing with a deal between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems to supply 155mm artillery shells and other ammunition.

The order is worth £280 million ($361 million) initially, with options that would increase the value of the deal to more than £400 million, the MoD said in a statement July 11.

BAE Systems said the deal will significantly increase production of munitions such as the 155mm , 30mm medium-caliber rounds and 5.56mm small-arms ammunition at it’s facilities in the north of England and South Wales.

“The production of 155mm shells is a demonstration of our commitment to invest in our armed forces and sovereign manufacturing capabilities,” U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the British Government came in for criticism from the Parliamentary defence committee for allowing Britian’s weapons stocks to dwindle. The committee said in its March report that it would take a decade to rebuild weapon stocks to acceptable levels and urged the MoD to rapidly expand industrial capacity to speed the rebuilding process.

To date, replenishing of stocks of weapons dispatched to the Ukraine has largely centered on missiles including the anti-tank NLAW weapon.

BAE said July 11 it was already investing in expanding munition capabilities in the U.K. to increase sovereign capabilities in the sector.

The spending includes a new machining line for 155 mm shells, a new explosives filling factory and the restart of a 30mm manufacturing capability.

No specific mention was made of the uptick in production contributing supplies of 155mm shells to Ukraine. The U.K. has previously provided quantities of ammunition, along with self-propelled guns to Kyiv.

Earlier this year the British Army said it was taking delivery of 14 Swedish built Archer artillery systems to fill the gap left by British supplies of its AS90 155mm weapons to the Ukraine.

Next Generation Munitions

The weapons are being supplied under a 15-year, £2.4 billion agreement between BAE and the MoD called the Next Generation Munitions Solution.

NGMS came into effect in January, replacing an earlier long-term munitions supply deal.

CEO Charles Woodburn, said that as the MoD’s long-term strategic partner for munitions supply, BAE is ”actively mobilising our operations in support of our NATO allies.”

“This multi-million pound investment will enable us to significantly ramp up production and sustain vital sovereign capability to deliver cutting-edge munitions, whilst creating and sustaining highly-skilled jobs across the UK,” he said in a statement.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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