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Várpalota ammo plant continues to grow

Text: Márton Mészáros Navarrai | Photo: Kinga Szováthy |  16:10 April 5, 2024

“Europe’s most modern artillery ammunition production plant is being built in the eastern part of Várpalota” – underlined Prof. Dr. László Palkovics, CEO, N7 Holding National Defence Industry Innovation Plc. at the groundbreaking ceremony of the factory building of the Várpalota Defence Industrial Complex manufacturing 155mm artillery shells on Wednesday, 3 April.

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“The production plant suitable for manufacturing 30mm shells for Lynx infantry fighting vehicles has reached such a stage of completion that together with the international Rheinmetall defence industry and automotive manufacturing AG, we can hand it over to joint ventures that will utilize it later, so they can install in it the technology forming the basis of production already before the end of the construction works. Besides, we are also celebrating that we will facilitate the domestic manufacturing of large-caliber artillery munitions starting from 2025” – told us Prof. Dr. László Palkovics.

The CEO said that “when we made the decision to manufacture munitions and explosives in addition to various vehicles and weapons in Hungary, we examined which parts of the country had earlier had competences of this type. We have chosen Várpalota, on the one hand because explosives had been manufactured here earlier, and so the other chemical industrial capacities are also in place here, which is indispensable for the production.

“Besides, further aspects to consider were expertise, the nearness of the University of Pannonia, the rich capability package of the vocational training centre as well as the Bakony shooting range that is located at a distance of approximately one kilometer from here. This shooting range is significant because the munitions to be produced in the plants to be built here need to be regularly tested at certain intervals; and there is no other range in Europe that is more suitable and larger for the testing of 155mm artillery shells than the “zero point” shooting range and training area” – underlined the CEO.

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Prof. Dr. László Palkovics pointed out that the topping out ceremony of the munitions factory complex being built opposite the Inota thermal power plant near Várpalota was held in September last year and also attended by Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky. The investment project received the building permit of the real estate manufacturing 155mm ammunition on 23 November (besides the production plant building, seven bunkers meeting NATO STANAG, a bonderising and painting building, as well as a social canteen and changing rooms building), but within the framework of the project, among others, approximately four kilometers of internal road, 23 kilometers of water public works, 2.5 kilometers of distant heating pipeline, as well as two underground sprinkler tanks and pumping stations will also be established.

The production of medium-calibre 30mm ammunition will already start in the last quarter of 2024, while that of large-calibre 155mm ammo in the last quarter of 2025.

In his speech delivered at the ceremony, German Rene Gansauge – who has been CEO of Rheinmetall’s Division Weapon & Ammunition since last year – called the foresight of the government of Hungary very impressive, as a few years ago it decided to invest in military technology and Hungary’s defence capabilities in partnership cooperation with the company headquartered in Düsseldorf. “Not only the partnership, but also the spectacular results of our cooperation are awe-inspiring” – he said.

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In her speech, Márta Camparani-Talabér, the mayor of Várpalota noted that she considers the construction of the Várpalota Defence Industrial Complex an event with special significance with respect to Hungary and the town with a population of 20,000 under her control. “We face the dimensions of the challenge every day, and are doing our best to meet it as much as we can” – she underlined, pointing out that the majority of residents in Várpalota see this large-scale project as bringing job opportunities, development and professional challenges. “Rheinmetall AG has a good reputation in Várpalota. So far, our cooperation has been exemplary, we understand each other well, for which I would like to thank Mr. Michael Krebs, CEO of the Várpalota-based Rheinmetall Hungary Munitions Zrt” – added the mayor.

In addition to MP Zsolt Nyitrai, the prime minister’s commissioner for key welfare issues, also present at the groundbreaking ceremony were the representatives of investing companies – namely ZÁÉV Construction Co. Ltd, bim.GROUP Ltd, Óbuda-Újlak Ltd, E.ON Hungary Ltd, MVM XPert Ltd and Várpalota Public Services Nonprofit Ltd.