Thales opens new assembly line for 70 mm laser-guided rockets

Five-fold increase in production capacity in in Belgium

Defence & Aerospace

July 2, 2024

/ By / Paris

Thales opens new assembly line for 70 mm laser-guided rockets

Alain Quevrin, Country Director Belgium, Thales, Hervé Dammann, Executive Vice President, Land and Air Systems, Thales, Ludivine Dedonder, Belgian Minister of Defence (Photo: Thales)

French defence and electronics firm Thales has opened a new assembly line for manufacturing 70 mm laser guided rockets at its plant at Herstal in Belgium. The new line will augment the capacity of the plant by five times to produce rockets that are currently being sent to Ukraine to help in its war with Russia.

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Thales, a French defence and electronics firm that is a European leader in manufacturing 70 mm laser-guided rockets, says it 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. These rockets are currently being extensively used by Ukrainian defence forces in their war with Russia.

In a press statement, Thales says that the move is part of a wide-ranging research and development programme supported by the Walloon Region in Belgium. It adds that the new capacity is a major step in a EUR 20 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.

It says that the new assembly line was inaugurated just 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 calibre currently being used in Ukraine.

 Thales 70 mm laser-guided rockets

70-mm rockets production capacity will increase from 1,000 guided rockets to 5,000 by 2025 (Photo: Thales)

The statement adds that in the space of less than a year, Thales Belgium, the only manufacturer of these munitions in Europe, has laid the groundwork for increased production of 70-mm rockets to meet the needs of European armed forces. It says that the 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.

Ludivine Dedonder

Ludivine Dedonder

“The expansion of the 70 mm rocket production line responds to rapidly growing international demand, as well as to the needs of defence, 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 Defence 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 defence, industry, and our country’s economy in the service of our national and international security,’’ says Ludivine Dedonder.

Willy Borsus

Willy Borsus

“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 five 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,’’ says Willy Borsus, Vice-President of Wallonia and Minister for the Economy, Research and Innovation.

Hervé Dammann

Hervé Dammann

“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,” says Hervé Dammann, Executive Vice President, Land and Air Systems, Thales.



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