Going to war? Good news! The United States is 13 years behind in ammunition production, NYT reports


by Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert at yahoo.com

The United States’ commitment to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion appears to have rattled the stability of the domestic stockpile of missiles and munitions.

The Biden administration has promised — as part of $33 billion sent in military aid for the besieged country so far — a US Patriot air-defense system will be sent to Ukraine, along with over 200,000 rounds of artillery, rockets, and tank rounds.

In fulfilling those promises, The New York Times reported the US has sent Ukraine so many stockpiled Stinger missiles that it would take 13 years of production at recent capacity levels to replace them. The Times added that Raytheon, the company that helps make Javeline missile systems, said it would take five years at last year’s production rates to replace the number of missiles sent to Ukraine in the last ten months.

Currently, the US produces just over 14,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition every month — and Ukrainian forces have previously fired that many rounds in the span of 48 hours, The Washington Post reported last month. US officials in January proposed a production increase up to 90,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition each month to keep up with demand.

“Ammunition availability might be the single most important factor that determines the course of the war in 2023,” US defense experts Michael Kofman and Rob Lee wrote in December for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, adding that Ukraine will depend on international stockpiles and production for access to the ammunition it needs.

The United States has rarely seen production shortages in ammunition and missiles to the degree the country currently faces. While there was a brief precision missile shortage in 2016 following fights in Libya and Iraq, The Times reported, the US has largely been engaged in short-term, high-intensity fights such as the Persian Gulf War, or prolonged, lower-intensity missions like the war in Afghanistan, which allowed for the stockpile to be rebuilt as needed.


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