Ukraine starts producing shells for Soviet-era tanks
By Max Hunder
KYIV (Reuters) - A major Ukrainian arms manufacturer announced on Tuesday it had started making 125-mm rounds for Soviet-era tanks, as Kyiv seeks to boost its armour capabilities for a counter-offensive against invading Russian forces.
The ammunition was being made outside Ukraine with the co-operation of an unnamed NATO country, state-owned Ukroboronprom said.
"The first batch of 125-mm projectiles for T-64, T-72 and T-80 tanks, which the Security and Defense Forces of Ukraine use to strike the invaders, has already been delivered," it said in a post on the Telegram app.
It said the shells had been made to fulfil an order from Ukraine's defence ministry. Despite them being made abroad, Ukrainian personnel participated in the manufacturing process, Ukroboronprom said.
While Western-made battle tanks donated by allies will soon enter service with Ukraine's armed forces, the bulk of Kyiv's tank fleet will remain Soviet-made in the short term.
This creates an acute need for new sources of ammunition supply, as most NATO tanks use a different calibre -- while the vast majority of 125-mm round stocks are held by Russia and other countries who would not supply Ukraine.
Kyiv's wider drive to produce its own ammunition comes as many of its Western allies feel the pinch in their own limited stockpiles after supplying Ukraine for over a year as it fights off Russia's invasion.
Ukroboronprom said this is the second type of munition which it had started to make in co-operation with a NATO member state.
In February, it announced the start of joint production of 120-mm mortar rounds, again with an unnamed NATO partner.
(Editing by William Maclean)