JERUSALEM — Israeli defense company Elbit Systems said it won several deals in Europe this month, including a $119 million sale of ATMOS truck-mounted howitzers and a $133 million contract for PULS artillery rocket systems.
The deals, which Elbit said are with a European NATO member country, come as several governments on the continent continue their shopping sprees to resupply their troops, having sent munitions from their own stocks to Ukraine, which is under invasion by Russia.
“We are witnessing a trajectory of an increased demand for advanced artillery solutions from militaries around the world, including European countries and NATO members, as part of their efforts to increase the effectiveness of their armed forces. Our operationally proven systems provide an advanced, cost-effective solution to meet that demand,” said Bezhalel Machlis, the CEO of Elbit.
Elbit says the ATMOS can fire “all NATO-certified 155mm projectiles” and that its range can exceed 40 kilometers (25 miles) with certain ammunition. “The ATMOS is designed for rapid deployment and operation enabling provision of fire support for a broad range of missions,” it added.
The PULS can fire both free-flying and precision-guided rockets as well as missiles at ranges of up to 300 kilometers.
Who’s the customer?
Elbit did not get more specific in identifying the customer — a common practice among Israeli defense contractors.
Notably, in January, Denmark’s Ministry of Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organisation said it was searching for a supplier to “quickly deliver new equipment to the Armed Forces” to close a capacity gap. The country is sending 19 Caesar artillery systems to Ukraine.
The PULS deal announced by Elbit includes rockets and missiles, as well as two batteries of the system. “The PULS launcher is fully adaptable to existing wheeled and tracked platforms, enabling a significant reduction in maintenance and training costs,” the company said. “The contract will be performed over a period of three years.”
The ATMOS deal will be performed over two years.
According to the Danish ministry’s statement in late January, its acquisition agency had “started negotiations with the manufacturer Elbit Systems for the delivery of ATMOS artillery pieces and PULS rocket launcher systems as soon as possible. The rocket launchers complement the new artillery systems, as it is initially not possible to get sufficient artillery delivered quickly enough to meet the Defence’s operational needs.”
“The acquisitions are also important to be able to retain our soldiers at the artillery and for the continued development of the 1st Brigade,” Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen had added.
The report cited Elbit Systems as a possible supplier that could this year deliver “sufficient ATMOS and PULS systems for Denmark to continue to register an artillery unit for the NATO Readiness Initiative.” The NRO is a group of units that provides the alliance with rapid-response capabilities.
According to the ministry, the main purpose of the acquisition effort is to bolster “the deterrence against Russia and reassure the eastern NATO Member States.”
On Jan. 19, days before the Danish statement mentioning Elbit, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry noted that “Denmark will transfer to Ukraine 19 CAESAR ACS,” and that the “donations will lead to a delay in strengthening Denmark’s 1st Brigade. Therefore the government [of Denmark] is now considering opportunities to quickly acquire new systems.”
The 1st Brigade is based in Holstebro and is part of the rapid-reaction force. It’s artillery battalion requires several Caesar self-propelled howitzers, which were acquired in 2017 and recently introduced to the force. But with Danish Caesar weapons on the way to Ukraine, Denmark is attempting to keep the 1st Brigade fully “manned and deployable” by replacing the systems by January 2024, according to the Sweden Defence Research Agency, which conducts defense research for the Swedish government.
Reports from 2017 had said Elbit’s ATMOS was one of the systems Denmark considered in a tender at the time, which eventually resulted in the Caesar acquisition. Tatra Trucks noted in March 2017 that “in the final phase, the choice was between the Caesar howitzer on a four-axle Tatra chassis and the Israeli-type ATMOS made by the Elbit Corporation, also mounted on the Tatra chassis.”
Defense News has contacted Denmark’s Defence Ministry for comment.
The sales in Europe come as Elbit announced a deal via its Romanian subsidiary, Elmet International, to supply $120 million worth of unmanned turrets, remote controlled weapon stations and mortars for the Piranha V combat vehicle over a three-year period.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.