Sunak and Scholz to announce joint development of artillery systems in Berlin

Sunak and Scholz to announce joint development of artillery systems in Berlin

The UK and Germany will jointly develop artillery systems, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will announce during talks to deepen the allies’ defence and security ties in Berlin.

The two countries will open a “new chapter” in their partnership, Mr Sunak said.

His first visit to the German capital since entering No 10 comes after he faced pressure to visit senior politicians from one of the UK’s most powerful European allies.

The UK and Germany are closely aligned on matters including support for Ukraine and are the two biggest suppliers of military aid to the country after the US, but have so far opted to co-operate through Nato and G7 forums instead of through strengthening bilateral ties.

But Mr Sunak and Mr Scholz will discuss closer co-operation on security, trade and illegal migration in one-on-one talks on Wednesday.

They will announce plans to develop remote-controlled Howitzer 155mm wheeled artillery systems to be fitted to Boxer armoured fighting vehicles, according to Downing Street.

It said the programme was expected to create hundreds of jobs in both nations, while equipping their troops with cutting-edge capabilities for future ground warfare.

Mr Sunak’s stop in Berlin follows his visit to Warsaw, where he promised to raise defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 in the face of threats from an “axis of authoritarian states” including Russia and China.

Ahead of his meeting with the German chancellor, the Prime Minister said: “The UK and Germany are European powerhouses. Together, we are stronger – whether that is defending against Russian aggression or driving economic growth and technological advance.

“Today we are opening a new chapter in our relationship, one that will make us safer and more prosperous. At this dangerous moment for the world, the UK and Germany are standing side by side to preserve security and prosperity at home and across our continent.”

The two leaders will also discuss collaboration on energy and renewables, including on the export of green hydrogen, and joint efforts to tackle organised immigration crime.

Mr Sunak will also seek to woo German businesses in Berlin to drive further economic co-operation, with No 10 saying German firms will announce new investment into the UK worth some £8 billion.

Germany is the UK’s largest trading partner in Europe.

It is also the second-biggest provider of military aid to Ukraine after the US, and has recently promised the war-torn country another Patriot missile system to bolster its air defence.

It will also meet its Nato target to spend 2% of GDP on defence, after Mr Scholz announced a historic national rearmament following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

At a press conference in Warsaw, Mr Sunak said he wanted to “pay tribute” to Mr Scholz for the shift in Germany’s policy.

The Prime Minister, who committed a further £500 million package of military aid to Kyiv during his trip, said: “Germany and the UK are the two largest defence spenders in Europe and are the two countries which have been at the forefront of providing support to Ukraine and I’m confident that that will continue.”