US sent missiles to Ukraine, struggling to replenish stockpiles

The sector cannot meet the increased demand for arms due to the war in Ukraine. Missing missiles, but also tanks

The war in Ukraine was marked by a recurring request from Volodomyr Zelensky (among others) to Western countries: send us weapons. But, at this stage, Western countries could find themselves without weapons, in this case, without missiles to send to Ukraine. Indeed, according to El Mundo, the sector is unable to meet the increase in demand for weapons and production does not meet the requirements of developed countries.

This is the case of Taiwan, which ordered and paid for 250 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from the United States to defend itself in the event of a Chinese invasion, but will not receive them because the United States is without missiles because of the war in Ukraine. . But in the United States there is no shortage of Stinger, Javelin and NLAW (portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank systems) missiles. The 40 M109 Paladin tanks that were to be delivered to Taiwan in 2023 may not arrive until 2026, again because of the war in Ukraine.

Last Wednesday, the US House of Representatives approved a $40 billion (€38 billion) package for Ukraine, bolstering support for kyiv announced by President Joe Biden. In this package, 23 million are intended for weapons alone, six times all the military aid that Washington has sent to kyiv since the start of the war.

According to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, the “United States has delivered about a third of its javelin to Ukraine”, even stating that “the closet is empty”. The Pentagon, for its part, guarantees that the eight Ukraine aid programs have not jeopardized the state of American defense readiness and that they will never fall “below the essential minimum level of inventory”. this country and maintain our interests”, guarantees the Pentagon.

According to the testimony of analyst Mark Cancian, of the Center for International and Strategic Studies, quoted by El Mundo, the United States has between 20,000 and 25,000 Javelins, which means that between 7,000 and 8,000 missiles will have were sent to Ukraine. The problem is that the companies Lockheed Martin and Northrop, which manufacture these missiles, can only produce 6,480 missiles per year. In other words, a year is not enough to replace the missiles that the United States has sent to war.

The United Kingdom will have sent 6,200 NLAW missiles, almost half of its stock. The missiles are made in the UK and the delivery time will be similar to the Javelin.

In the case of the Stingers, the US military stopped buying this type of missile 19 years ago and is now looking for a replacement. The Raytheon company, in Tucson, in the Arizona desert, can only manufacture 250 a year and takes 24 months to deliver the weapon which takes titanium. However, the supply of this metal is reduced because the second largest exporter in the world is Russia and the fifth is Ukraine.

In summary, the traditional defense sector currently has few companies to meet the increasing demand for armaments from countries. According to the Financial Times, in 1990 the United States had 51 suppliers, while it currently has only five. The number drops when it comes to tactical missiles: of the 13 companies that produced them in 1990, only three remain.

With the decrease in the number of producing companies, an increase in production is impossible and also restarts the manufacture of systems like the M109. That’s because the United States converted Detroit’s auto industry to produce WWII arsenal, but today the city lives on services and has virtually no factories.

The executives of the companies that supply arms to the United States – Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Technologies, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics – acknowledged in April that they will profit from the spending that the war has forced on American defense, but the Supply chain issues can hamper efforts to increase production.

The lack of weapons in the United States also raises concerns in Europe, since, according to the FT, which quotes experts in the sector, European companies produce a wide range of weapons, but do not have enough industrial capacity to reach the number of production necessary to fulfill the orders.

Mark Cancian, from the Center for International and Strategic Studies, even asserts that Eastern European countries are more inclined to buy weapons from the United States because they feel that “American companies are integrated into the army and that gives them a different feeling”.

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