President Joe Biden what to say Americas will continue to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs to fight Russia “for as long as it takes.” Fulfilling that promise forces the Pentagon and its NATO counterparts to change the way they do business.
The Defense Department has been scrambling to meet Ukrainian demands for everything from artillery shells. Patriot Missile Defense SystemAmerica is ready to supply a problem that has plagued arms production for decades. organization once its immediate needs are met.
It has also raised bigger questions about how the US provides itself and its allies for war. As Ukraine continues to push for more and more advanced weapons, the United States faces the risk of depleting its own stockpile of some ground-based weapons if it is suddenly forced to defend itself. To help Taiwan defend itself against China or counter North Korean military action.
The problem is particularly acute as Russia forces Ukraine into the kind of war that some Pentagon planners believe is a thing of the past. While the US is focusing money and production on stealth fighters, AI-augmented goggles and hypersonic weapons, Ukraine wants artillery shells, tanks and shoulder-fired missiles to deter Russian ground attacks..
“This is a very serious challenge for NATO allies who are actively engaged in providing significant military assistance, lethal aid and incapacitation to the Ukrainian military,” said US Ambassador Julianne Smith. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was announced on 13 December.
The statistics are staggering. As of December 9, the United States has delivered to Ukraine more than one million 155mm artillery shells, 180,000 105mm artillery shells, more than 8,500 Javelin anti-tank missiles, 4,200 precision-guided 155mm Excalibur missiles, and 1.
As the coronavirus pandemic exposed global supply failures for everything from microchips to kitchen cabinets, Ukraine’s war and its military needs highlight how vulnerable the Pentagon is to supply deficits.
“My God, what if something explodes in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said William LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, at a conference last month. “Not in five years, not in ten years. What if next week?
“We all agreed that just-in-time economics was the way to go,” he said.
But “just in time” means something different to the defense industry than to companies looking to fill orders in days or weeks.
Case in point: the national advanced surface-to-air missile systems that Ukraine wants to defend its skies with. In November, the Pentagon expedited the first two NASAMS to Ukraine, coordinating with partners and allies to use components from existing inventories, as well as using a contractual instrument that authorizes contractors to begin work before a final agreement is reached. Terms of contract. This enabled these top two organizations to provide $182 million on August 26.
A $1.2 billion contract awarded on November 30 was also expedited and approved Raytheon Technologies Corp. Start work on the production of six more systems for Ukraine in the coming years.
Another example HIMARS is a mobile rocket system that the Pentagon has purchased in small numbers in recent years. The United States has delivered 38 high mobility artillery rocket systems to Ukraine, a small fraction of the 460 launchers in the Army and Marine Corps inventory. Lockheed Martin Corporation produced at least 540 in total.
According to Lockheed CEO Jim Daiglet said the company decided to ramp up production before the Pentagon formally requested it., with the aim of producing 96 systems per year. That means doubling speed by early 2022.
Changing the process and mindset of the defense procurement bureaucracy to an “insurgency” mindset “requires sustained attention from senior management, and I think that’s what’s happening right now,” he said. Eric Fanning, president of the Aerospace Industries AssociationIn an interview.
Regardless of what happens in Ukraine or Taiwan, some officials believe America’s stockpile of critical weapons is too low. “We all want to have larger reserves than we’ve had in recent years,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said. “I think we’re going to escalate.”
Although the exact quantities of some of the ammunition are classified, there is a consensus that the stockpile must grow significantly. “I think Ukraine has shown that if inventory levels were 1x before Ukraine, those inventories should be 1.5x or 2x,” Roman Schweitzer of the Cowen Washington Research Group said in an interview.
Ukraine’s insatiable demand exposes the gaps. A surge in arms production fueled by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has slowed as fighting has subsided. Raytheon ceased production of its Stinger missile in 2020.
Now America is trying to revive manufacturing, encouraging companies like Raytheon and Lockheed to get production lines back on track. It is also using lessons learned from Operation Warp Speed, a whole-of-government effort to speed up the development of vaccines, tests and treatments to tackle Covid-19.
Until now, The Army does a good job of identifying systems to change and planning to increase productivity 155mm shells and GPS-guided rockets for HIMARS, but the slowest part of the process is “hiring,” said Sen. Oklahoma of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. James Inhofe said.
Inhofe and Committee Chairman Jack Reid, D-Rhode Island, provide temporary authorizations to rebuild the weapons stockpile by using multi-year contracts that require congressional approval in the annual defense policy bill.
Providing multi-year purchase dollars “could alleviate some of what we see happening in the supply chain,” Sheila Kahyoglu, a securities analyst at Jefferies, said in an interview. The Pentagon has yet to re-award multi-year contracts to Ukraine.
Behind all of this is a complex and painfully slow procurement process, thanks in part to legislative and regulatory safeguards to prevent unfair pricing.
“The problem is a tension in the system,” said Mark Ganzian, a former White House defense budget inspector who now works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Military planners want to replenish depleted inventories as quickly as possible to mitigate risk. On the other hand, contracting officers must adhere to safeguards designed to prevent errors and irregularities.
The Pentagon is trying to reassure the public that the US is not running out of ammunition. In a statement to reporters on December 3, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. is making sure it has the inventory it needs to defend itself. Every time you get requests from Ukraine.
“It hasn’t changed, it won’t,” he said. “We drew capacity from our excess stockpile — what we had was more than we needed to protect ourselves.”
(c) 2022, Bloomberg – Battle of Tony Capacio & Courtney McBride