Facing a Battle for Armored Steel, This Tank Maker Bought the Factory
Threatened with a shortage of the hardened steel used to make parts of its tanks, one arms company went on the offensive: It bought a 200-year-old steel foundry to ensure supply.Now, the 1,500-degree-Celsius molten metal pouring out of a giant ladle here will be used to make parts for KNDS’s Leopard 2 tanks and other armored vehicles that are currently playing a starring role on Ukrainian battlefields.
Securing specialty metals is one of several supply-chain challenges facing the sector, where shortages of chips, rocket engines and other components have hindered efforts to arm Ukraine and replenish supplies sent there. Seeking to secure enough supplies of cast-steel parts to feed an increase in production, KNDS bought an 80% controlling stake in a German steel foundry earlier this year.
Ballistic steel is hardened by adding a mix of metal alloys and then treating it with high temperatures. One grade of steel produced by the foundry is around twice as strong as steel typically used in construction, Steinheider said.