Boom time for arms manufacturers as Nato’s EU members boost military capability

Lockheed Martin and Elbit Systems among companies benefitting from Dutch, Danish and potentially German reinforcement

It’s a sign of the ratcheting pressure towards a new form of integration facing EU countries that are also members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) that the Netherlands is to extend its military capability by acquiring new US and Israeli-made long-range weapons systems.

In a written briefing to MPs on Friday, not yet debated, the government revealed that it is in the process of buying US Tomahawk subsonic cruise missiles to be installed on its navy’s frigates and submarines, as well as JASSM extended range missiles for its F-35 fighter jets.

The two systems are tactically similar in that they will enable both navy and air force to engage targets at least 1,000 kilometres away, and, crucially, to redirect aim after launch. In practice, this means they’ll allow the Dutch to strike with precision in enemy territory for the first time.

The package represents an ever-closer working relationship at military level between the Netherlands and the United States, driven to a large extent by the war in Ukraine.


It comes hot on the heels of a deal in February in which the US state department sanctioned a $670 million (€618 million) sale to the Dutch of 20 Lockheed Martin M142 Himars rocket launchers along with 29 M30A2 rockets, 17 Humvees and other support and communications equipment.

That’s in a context where Lockheed Martin – the world’s largest defence contractor by revenue – won a $431 million contract from the US army last December to manufacture M412 launchers specifically to “replenish” US and allies’ stocks sent to shore up Ukrainian defences against Russia.

The Dutch are also in the process, the defence department briefing revealed, of purchasing the Israeli-made multiple-rocket launcher, Precise and Universal Launch System (Puls).

All of this means the Netherlands will soon have its own stand-alone rocket system for the first time in years.

The aim of such avid military shopping is to modernise the country’s own defences in an environment in which the combat benefits of new technology can be short-lived.

But it’s about common Nato defence and readiness too, the principle enshrined in Article 5 of the organisation’s founding treaty signed in 1949 by the original 12 countries, including the Netherlands.

As the parliamentary briefing put it: “The war in Ukraine shows again that fire support over short, medium, and long range is essential. With the new systems, we will add substantially to Nato’s common power in combat and deterrence.”

As Finland clambers under that Nato common umbrella, the Netherlands is not the only country looking at these high-performance systems, of course.

Denmark is also in the process of buying the Puls rocket system from Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems to replace all 19 of its French-made Caesar howitzers, which it has pledged to Ukraine.

Another country known, like the Netherlands, for its liberal lifestyle, Denmark is also adding highly flexible Israeli Atmos artillery pieces, truck-mounted howitzers with their own propulsion systems that can be used on most off-road trucks and fire six rounds a minute.

Even Germany is believed to be considering a Puls purchase.

Such common use of technology, the briefing notes, offers, in a military setting, “prospects for international co-operation in order to increase European autonomy.”

That’s certainly true. There’s arguably no greater incentive than defending one’s way of life. What’s also true is that, as ever, legacy arms manufacturers are the sure-fire economic winners.