Thales steps up missile production at Herstal site to support European defence

French multinational technology giant Thales has inaugurated a new production line at its Herstal site in Belgium. With the 20 million euro investment, the company aims to increase its production capacity for 70mm laser-guided rockets fivefold.

Late last year, Liège-based FN Browning Group entered a 1.7 billion euro, 20-year partnership with Belgium’s Defence ministry as the country sought to improve its strategic autonomy, including by guaranteeing the supply and management of "light" arms.

On Monday, French technology company Thales opened a new assembly line to accommodate a fivefold increase in the production of 70mm laser-guided rockets at Herstal. 

Thales will bring its production capacity for 70mm rocket systems, the NATO-standard currently used in Ukraine, from 1,000 to 5,000 by 2025. To support this expansion, it has hired more than 50 new staff, enhanced the supply chain, and integrated additional activities vertically.

The expansion is the first stage of a vast research and development programme supported by the Walloon Region and the Belgian Defence ministry. The French group will invest 20 million euros to strengthen ammunition capabilities in Europe. 

“In the face of today's geopolitical challenges, this initiative contributes to strengthening Belgium's strategic autonomy and guaranteeing peace and security in Europe,” said Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder during the inauguration of the production line. 

The investment indicates how rapidly defence investment is moving up the political agenda. Belgium and other EU countries are ramping up their support for the industry as concerns grow over underinvestment in Europe’s own production capacity. For years, the bloc has primarily relied on the US for security.



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