Ukrainian servicemen fire an M777 howitzer, Kharkiv Region, northeastern Ukraine. This photo cannot be distributed in the Russian Federation.
Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy | Future Publishing | beautiful pictures
In the US arms industry, conventional shell production for the 155 mm howitzer – a long-range heavy artillery weapon currently in use on the Ukrainian battlefield – was about 30,000 rounds per year during that period. jar.
The Ukrainian soldiers fighting against the invading Russian forces will outnumber that in about two weeks.
That’s according to Dave Des Roches, an associate professor and senior military officer at the US National Defense University. And he worries.
“I’m very nervous,” Des Roches told CNBC.
Europe is also at a low. “The military depots of most [European NATO] I wouldn’t say the member states are exhausted, but depleted at a high rate, because we have provided a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians,” said Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Economic Affairs. foreign affairs and security policy, said earlier.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held a special meeting with the alliance’s weapons chiefs on Tuesday to discuss how to replenish member states’ arsenals.
Military analysts point to a root problem: Western nations have been producing weapons in much smaller volumes in peacetime, with governments choosing to cut production costly and produce weapons only when necessary. Some weapons are no longer in production and require skilled labor and experience to produce them – something that has been in short supply in the US manufacturing sector for many years. .
A US M142 High Mobility Artillery Missile System (HIMARS) fires shells during exercises on June 30, 2022. The US Department of Defense has announced that the US will send Ukraine $270 million in assistance. security, a package will include highly mobile artillery missile systems and a significant number of tactical drones.
Fadel Senna | Afp | beautiful pictures
In fact, Stoltenberg said during the United Nations General Assembly last week that NATO members need to reinvest in their industrial facilities in the arms sector.
“We are currently working with industry to increase production of weapons and ammunition,” Stoltenberg told the New York Timesadded that countries should encourage arms manufacturers to expand their capacity in the long term by placing more arms orders.
But ramping up defense production is not a quick or easy feat.
Short answer: no.
The United States is by far the largest supplier of military aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia, provide weapons packages worth 15.2 billion USD so far since Moscow invaded the neighboring country in late February. Some American-made weapons have changed the game for the Ukrainians; especially 155 mm cannons and long range heavy artillery such as Lockheed Martin– PRICE HIMARS Crafting. And the Biden administration has said it will support its ally Ukraine “as long as it can” to defeat Russia.
That means more weapons.
Basically, the US ran out of 155 mm cannons to supply Ukraine; To send more, it would have to dip into its own stockpile for US military units to use them for training and readiness. But that’s a no-no for the Pentagon, military analysts say, meaning supplies destined for US operations are highly unlikely to be affected.
“There are a number of systems that I think the Department of Defense has reached the point of not being willing to provide more of that particular system,” said Mark Cancian, a former colonel in the US Marine Corps and senior adviser at the Center. for Ukraine. for Strategic and International Studies.
That’s because “the United States needs to maintain stockpiles to support war plans,” Cancian said. “For some weapons, the battle plan will be conflict with China over Taiwan or in the South China Sea; for others, especially ground systems, the battle plan will be North Korea. Fairy or European.”
This means that for Ukrainian forces some of their most important battlefield equipment – like the 155 mm howitzer – is having to be replaced by older and less optimal weapons like the 105mm howitzer. mm, has a smaller payload and a shorter range.
“And that’s a problem for the Ukrainians,” said Des Roches, because “range is very important in this war. This is an artillery war.”
A boy walks past a mural depicting a Ukrainian soldier firing with a US-made Javelin portable anti-tank missile system, in Kyiv, on July 29, 2022.
Sergei Supinsky | AFP | beautiful pictures
Other weapons on which Ukraine relies currently classified as “restricted” in US inventory including HIMARS launchers, Javelin missiles, Stinger missiles, M777 howitzers and 155 mm ammunition.
Javelin, produced by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, have achieved an iconic role in Ukraine – the precision-guided, shoulder-fired anti-tank missile has been integral to the fight against Russian tanks. But output in the US is low at a rate of about 800 per year, and Washington has now sent about 8,500 to Ukraine, according to CSIS – production value more than a decade.
Ukrainian soldiers photograph a mural titled ‘Saint Javelin’ dedicated to British mobile surface-to-air missiles that was unveiled next to a Kyiv apartment complex on May 25, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Artist and illustrator Chris Shaw’s artwork involves a Javelin missile that was donated to the Ukrainian military to fight the Russian invasion.
Christopher Furlong | beautiful pictures
President Joe Biden visited a Javelin factory in Alabama in May, saying he would “make sure the United States and our allies can replenish our own arsenal to replace what we I sent it to Ukraine.” However, he added, “this fight will not be cheap.”
The Pentagon has ordered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of new Javelins, but getting up to speed takes time — so many suppliers supply the chemicals and computer chips for each missile that can’t get enough acceleration. And hiring, testing, and training people to build the technology takes time. Cancian said it could take one to four years for the US to significantly increase overall weapons production.
“We need to put our defense industry foundation in a strong position in wartime,” says Des Roches. “And I don’t see any indication that we have.”
A Lockheed Martin spokesman, when contacted for comment, referenced an interview in April in which Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet told CNBC: “We have to step up the supply chain. For our response, we have to have some capacity, which we have invested in. And then the delivery will happen, say in six, 12, 18 months.”
Raytheon and the US Department of Defense did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
In the meantime, Ukraine could look for suppliers elsewhere – South Korea, for example, has a formidable arms sector and in August signed a contract to sell to Poland for tanks and tanks worth $ 5.7 billion. Ukrainian forces will also have to work with a replacement weapons are often less optimal.
A Ukrainian soldier enters a position in a trench on the front line near Avdiivka, Donetsk region on June 18, 2022 amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Anatolii Stepanov | AFP | beautiful pictures
Jack Watling, an expert on land warfare at the Royal United Services Institute in London, believes Ukraine still has plenty of room to provide itself with many of the weapons it needs.
“There’s enough time to sort that out before it becomes critical in terms of ramping up production,” Watling said, noting that Kyiv can source certain ammunition from countries that don’t need it. them immediately or have a stockpile nearing the end of their life.
“So we can continue to supply Ukraine,” Watling said, “but there is a point where especially with certain critical natures Ukrainians will need to be cautious about the proportion of spending. and where they prioritize those weapons, because there isn’t an infinite supply.”