Belgium will not send howitzers to Ukraine due to unreasonable prices

Belgium will not send howitzers to Ukraine due to unreasonable prices
An M109 howitzer. Credit: FTS Belgium

Belgium will not supply armoured M109 howitzers to Ukraine after the plan to buy back the Belgian Army's discarded M109s has now been abandoned.

The reason behind the failed deal is reportedly the unreasonable price of the M109s set by the Flemish technology company OIP, who are charging “more than 10 times what they paid for it themselves”, a source told De Morgen.

In fact, the Belgian howitzers were sold to the OIP in 2015 for €15,000 each - “a dumping price for modern weaponry”, according to a military source. Now, they are too expensive to purchase back.

In addition, OIP, whose subsidiary is dedicated to military vehicles, would have also been unwilling to have the condition of the M109s checked by specialists from the Belgian Army.

“That delivery will not take place, but not over a matter of principle,” said Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder to De Standaard on Friday.

The Defence Ministry was recently told that the armoured howitzers have since been sold to another party, though it remains unclear to whom. OIP does not want to comment on the file, according to De Morgen.

The 64 M109s that were discarded by the Belgian army in 2008 were in excellent condition after receiving an update. However, the operating costs were too high for their shrinking budget.

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In 2015, 38 of the M109s were sold to Indonesia, while the rest was moved to OIP for a ‘dumping price’ of €15,000 each. They were left in an OIP hangar until the government planned to buy back the discarded howitzers in April to send to eastern Ukraine.

Belgian support

Since the end of April, €2.65 million worth of equipment has been delivered to Ukraine, including 952 bulletproof vests, 2,000 associated protection plates and 1,100 rockets for the ‘Carl Gustav’, a rocket launcher of Swedish manufacture.

Belgium donated military support to Ukraine immediately after the Russian invasion, including 5,000 FNC machine guns, 200 LAW anti-tank weapons and 3,800 tons of fuel for a total amount of €77 million.

The war crimes and atrocities committed by the Russian military since then have prompted the government to approve additional aid at the end of April, though details were not provided.

However, military support to Ukraine from Western allies seems to be faltering after the failed deal of the M109s.

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