Story by By Jessica Parker – BBC Berlin correspondent
Europe will need 10 years before it is fully ready to defend itself, the boss of Germany’s biggest defence firm, Rheinmetall, told the BBC.
Armin Papperger said that ammunition stocks are currently “empty”.
He made the comments during a visit by Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a foundation-laying ceremony for a major new arms manufacturing plant in Lower Saxony.
Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen were also in attendance.
The comments come a day after comments by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump sparked fresh alarm in Europe.
The frontrunner for the Republican nomination said he once told a world leader he would not protect Nato members who don’t pay their dues and would even “encourage” aggressors to “do whatever the hell they want”.
Rheinmetall has said it will invest more than $300m (£274m) in the new facility. It is eventually expected to produce 200,000 rounds of artillery shells annually.
Mr Papperger said that a “long time” would be needed to prepare against an “aggressor who wants to fight against Nato”.
“We are fine in three, four years – but to be really prepared, we need 10 years,” he said.