Loaded with Ammo

One of the largest ammunition manufacturers in Europe, Nexter Systems, is optimistic about the Indian market

Dilip Kumar Mekala

Rome/Versailles/Brussels/Lisbon: Nexter Systems has built a huge empire for its ammunition business. With the acquisition of Simmel Difesa (Italy) and Mecar (Belgium) from Chemring Group in April 2014, Nexter can now claim to be one of the biggest ammunition manufacturers in Europe, practically with the complete catalogue of munitions. Be it small calibre, medium or large; field artillery or tank ammunition; land, air or naval systems; they got it all. According to the company, this acquisition means not only accelerated development of new products and expansion of the customer base, but also an important step by the group in the momentum of European consolidation.

Models of Nexter ammunition at La Chapelle St-Ursin plant
Models of Nexter ammunition at La Chapelle St-Ursin plant

The Ammunition Business Group (ABG) comprises three complementary companies - Nexter Munitions, Simmer Difesa, Mecar - each focused primarily on their core business, but also clearly benefiting from synergies generated by their being part of the Nexter Group. “The good thing with Nexter ammunition companies is that they have very little overlap. We add to each other’s strengths,” an executive from ABG said. The most impressive thing about the Ammunition Business Group is that as a whole, they could design, develop and manufacture any munition according to a customer need, all within their facilities. Only few minor parts are sourced through their sub-contractors.

FORCE was the only Indian magazine invited to visit some of the production facilities of the Group in Italy, France and Belgium and later for the firing trials for some of its precision munitions in a test range at Portugal in mid-December 2015.

India is a promising market for future orders of the company. “We are investing a lot of time and money for the programmes in the Indian market,” Mohamed Ben-Ahmed, commercial and marketing director, Nexter Ammunition Group, told FORCE. Emphasising on the scope of the Indian market for the company, he said that there are several programmes that are under consideration by the defence ministry, and once they fructify, the company could potentially bag millions of Euros worth orders which would pave the way for long-term ammunition supply for the Indian Army and Indian Navy.

Colleferro, Italy: The first stop during the media tour was to the production facilities of Simmel Difesa in Colleferro, a small village in the south of Rome. Set up in 1912 originally to make gunpowder and explosives, this plant had seen a very high production during World War I and the colonial era. The plant also worked at full steam during World War II before being almost completely destroyed by Allied air raids in 1943. After it was reconstructed, the company slowly gained expertise in medium calibre munitions, bomb fuses, propelling powder, rockets and missile war heads.

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