The volume of US arms donations to the Ukrainians has sharply reduced US supplies. Experts warn of the risks of shortages in the event of an increase in conflicts. They warn that replacing much of this equipment will take time.
The amount is huge. The United States is about to launch a new $40 billion (38.4 billion euro) package to help Ukraine. After House approval on May 10, the bill must now pass the Senate, before Joe Biden can sign it into law. An unprecedented commitment not without consequences for the US arms industry.
The aid was distributed as follows: $6 billion to reinforce the Ukrainian army’s equipment in armored vehicles and its anti-aircraft defenses, about $8.7 billion to resupply US military equipment already received by Kyiv, and an additional $11 billion for emergency. Supplies that the White House could release without getting a green light from Congress. The remaining $40 billion voted for non-military purposes, with a humanitarian and economic aid component.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Washington has already sent more than $3.5 billion in weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft missiles, M777 howitzers, and new Kamikaze Switchblade and Phoenix Ghost aircraft. .
The scale of these arms transfers to Ukraine is beginning to worry some parliamentarians and military experts. They fear a worrying and lasting decline in US arms stocks, particularly in the event of tensions on other fronts, with North Korea, Iran or even China.
Limited stock of missiles
At the heart of the concerns, the decline in US Javelins and Stingers stocks. The Pentagon hasn’t purchased Stingers in nearly twenty years, while manufacturer Raytheon has warned that its stockpile of spare parts is limited. However, more than 1,400 of these anti-aircraft missiles, or a quarter of US reserves, have already been transferred to Kyiv.
Democrat Adam Smith and Republican Mike Rogers, two prominent members of the House Armed Services Committee, have already sounded the alarm. “I asked the Department of Defense about two months ago for a plan to resupply our Stinger and Javelin stocks,” lamented Mike Rogers, who cautioned Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley of the urgency. From the situation in a letter dated March.
“The United States has sent about a third of its stock of Javelins and Stingers,” estimates Mark Cancian, a former Navy colonel and expert on budget strategy at the Pentagon, who is now a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Information he says he confirmed with the Ministry of Defense.
Skilled labor shortage
The problem, notes the arms expert, is that it will take the United States at least four years to replenish its stockpile of Javelin anti-tank missiles. Knowing that the country currently produces about a thousand years – including 200 sold abroad – and that Washington has sent 5,500 to Ukraine, it will likely be necessary to double production, which may take some time to implement. way, he warns.
In this context, Joe Biden on May 2 went to the Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama where these famous Javelins are manufactured, to encourage employees there to work twice as hard. The visit was to highlight a strong military industry.
But the reality is completely different. The U.S. arms industry lacks manpower, and in many cases, subcontractors are based overseas, which makes Americans’ desire for rapid rearmament more complex, analyzes Michael O’Hanlon, director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
“The problem is not only that arms companies find it difficult to convince people who are, say, Starbucks employees to work for them. The worry is that these people do not have the necessary skills. There are about 6 million qualified employees missing to run the US economy as a whole.”
So it’s time within the Department of Defense to find solutions. The Pentagon holds weekly meetings with defense companies, mainly to help them solve problems in their supply chains by finding new suppliers of rare parts.
Others suggest diversifying arms shipments to Ukraine. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told the British weekly The Economist that the US military has a variety of equipment, which offers the same capabilities as the Javelins. “We have to continue giving weapons to Ukraine without jeopardizing our security. We will have to adapt what we give them. We can give them TOW anti-tank missiles instead of Javelins, we can give them older howitzers instead of newer ones and our European allies can do the same”, suggests Mark Cancian.
Experience new drones
On the other hand, with regard to Switchblade and Phoenix Ghost drones sent to Ukraine, the war appears to present an opportunity for Washington, which would like to get a more accurate idea of its operation. These are new systems [de drones suicides capables de percer des blindés, NDLR] – They’re almost experimental – so it’s no surprise that we’ve sent off nearly all of our inventory,” said former Colonel Mark Cancian.
Other observers believe that liquidating stockpiles of missiles, such as the four-decade-old Stinger, can also be used to develop more modern versions of these weapons.
Michael O’Hanlon answers: “The problem is urgent: it’s about what we can do over the next 12 to 14 months.” “However, to develop new weapons systems, it takes at least two years and there are no technological or labor problems. This is not the case today.”
This article is adapted from the English language. Find the original here.