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Strategic autonomy and security of supply: a partnership between Belgian Defence and FN Herstal

On 17 November 2023, the Belgian government approved the implementation of a long-term strategic partnership between Belgian Defence and FN Herstal ("Partnership").

The Partnership is part of the DIRS* and the policies carried out since 2020 by the Belgian federal government and Ludivine Dedonder, Minister of Defence.

The Partnership contributes to the objectives of strategic autonomy and security of supply of the European Union and NATO.

In particular, it aims to secure the supply of small-calibre ammunition and maintain the Belgian army’s fleet of small arms in operational condition for 20 years.

In line with Belgium’s commitment to contribute to the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base, the partnership is also a multinational framework open to other European states, to meet their long-term ammunition requirements.

Investments are already underway at Zutendaal and Herstal and will be stepped up over the coming months. They will contribute to a significant increase in ammunition production, the reintroduction of 5.56 and 7.62 calibre ammunition and the creation of more than 60 jobs at both sites.

Julien Compère, CEO of FN Herstal:

I am particularly pleased that our company FN Herstal will make a long-term industrial contribution to the defence strategy of Belgium, Europe, NATO, and their allies. Our partnership agreement paves the way for major investments, including the installation of new ammunition production capacity at our industrial sites in Zutendaal and Herstal.

We will be able to expand this capacity to meet the needs of other countries. This partnership illustrates the quality of our relations with our European and NATO customers and partners, in particular Belgian Defence.

FN Herstal was created in 1889 to equip the Belgian army: today we are writing a new page in this history with Defence and the federal government, whom I would like to thank warmly for their trust.

The role of FN Herstal

The partnership relates exclusively to the defence small arms fleet, i.e. FN Herstal’s product groups (ammunition, portable weapons, integrated weapon systems), and covers the supply, management, maintenance and digitisation of the small arms fleet, the supply of ammunition, as well as cutting-edge Research & Development aspects.

In addition to improving security of supply and the strategic autonomy of Belgian Defence, it will improve and simplify the administrative and financial management of the small arms fleet.

About FN Herstal

FN Herstal is a world leader in the field of small arms, particularly in the design, development, and manufacture of small arms, associated ammunition and integrated weapon systems for land, air and sea applications.

Dedicating 10-15% of its annual turnover to R&D, FN Herstal is renowned throughout the world for the high reliability of its products and its innovation capacity.

FN Herstal is also a reference in the field of ammunition. Over the last 50 years, the company has played a leading role in the creation and/or standardisation of several NATO calibres, including the 5.56x45mm, the 5.7x28mm, the 7.62x51mm and the 12.7x99mm.

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