LONDON and STUTTGART – Elbit Systems’ partnership with KNDS to jointly produce a European artillery kit could challenge Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall’s proposal of replacing Germany’s aging rocket launchers with the “GMARS” system.
KNDS, a Amsterdam-based joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Nexter, signed a cooperation agreement with the Israeli company at the DSEI exhibition this week in London to begin the joint manufacturing of the EuroPULS rocket artillery system.
Based on the existing PULS artillery rocket produced by Elbit, the new kit will integrate the capabilities of KNDS, such as its modular fire control system, to offer a Europeanized version to countries in the region.
An Elbit spokesperson confirmed to Defense News that the production of the EuroPULS will be carried out in Germany. The open concept of the system does not exclude the usage of missiles from other companies and that KNDS would be acting as the lead system integrator in this program, it said in a statement.
Germany has said it wants to replace its MARS 2 systems, a number of which have been provided to Ukraine and the rest of which are rapidly aging.
When asked whether Elbit could eventually put in a bid for the EuroPULS to act as a replacement for the German artillery systems, the Israeli company declined to answer.
Germany has yes to initiate a replacement program for MARS 2, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense told Defense News on Sept. 14, without providing a timeline for when the Bundeswehr might act.
Lockheed and Rheinmetall have paired up to offer a European-made rocket launcher based on Lockheed’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) system to Berlin. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to build such a system in April.
G for Germany
The “GMARS” system -- with the “G” denoting Germany -- would feature a Rheinmetall-built chassis nearly twice as long as that of the HIMARS system, with Lockheed’s launcher loader component integrated onto the truck, and featuring two rocket pods for double loadout capacity.
The chassis would be built in Rheinmetall’s Vienna facilities, and overall integration of the system would be performed in Germany, with some components acquired from the U.S. via combined foreign military sales and direct commercial sales, officials told Defense News in June during the 2023 Paris Air Show.
Were Germany to select the GMARS system, Lockheed and Rheinmetall could have the initial vehicles delivered for testing and acceptance by 2025. A Lockheed official confirmed then that the companies are in conversations with Berlin regarding the replacement of the MARS 2.
As of Sept. 14, Germany has sent five MARS 2 systems and associated ammunition to Ukraine, according to a running report published by the Ministry of Defense.
Vivienne Machi is a reporter based in Stuttgart, Germany, contributing to Defense News' European coverage. She previously reported for National Defense Magazine, Defense Daily, Via Satellite, Foreign Policy and the Dayton Daily News. She was named the Defence Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2020.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.