Biden to visit Lockheed factory as weapons stockpile runs out

WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Joe Biden tours a Lockheed Martin plant that manufactures an anti-tank weapons system on Tuesday, he’s sure to announce that American-made weapons will be a game-changer for America’s relentless resistance. Ukraine to the Russian invasion.

But Biden’s planned visit to the Alabama factory line also draws attention to a growing concern as the war drags on: Can the United States keep up the pace of shipping large quantities of weapons to Ukraine while maintaining a healthy stockpile that they might need if a conflict breaks out with the North? Korea, Iran or elsewhere?

The United States has supplied at least 7,000 javelins, including some transferred under the Trump administration, about a third of its stockpile, to Ukraine in recent years, according to analysis by Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Program in International Security Studies. The Biden administration has said it has pledged to send 5,500 javelins to Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion.

Analysts also estimate that the United States has sent about a quarter of its stockpile of shoulder-fired Stinger missiles to Ukraine. Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told investors on a quarterly call last week that his company, which makes the weapons system, would not be able to ramp up production until next year, due to parts shortages.

“Could that be a problem? The short answer is, ‘Probably, yes,'” said Cancian, a retired Navy colonel and former Office of Management and Budget specialist on the Pentagon’s budget strategy, the war financing and supply programs.

He added that the Stingers and Javelins were where “we see the biggest inventory issues” and that production of both weapon systems has been limited in recent years.

Ukrainian children victims of Russian aggression. (CNN, TWITTER, DENNYS KAZANSKY, Twitter/Dennys Kazansky)

The Russian invasion presents the American and European defense industry with a great opportunity to increase profits as lawmakers from Washington to Warsaw are poised to increase defense spending in response to Russian aggression. Defense contractors, however, face the same supply chain and labor shortage issues that other manufacturers face, as well as others that are industry-specific. .

Military spending in the United States and around the world was increasing even before the February 24 Russian invasion. Biden’s proposed budget for 2023 targeted $773 billion for the Pentagon, an annual increase of about 4%.

Globally, total military spending rose 0.7% to more than $2 trillion for the first time in 2021, according to an April report by the International Peace Research Institute of Stockholm.

The war will mean increased sales for some defense contractors, including Raytheon, which makes the Stinger missiles that Ukrainian troops have used to knock out Russian planes. The company is also part of a joint venture with Lockheed Martin which manufactures the Javelins.

Biden will visit Lockheed Martin’s factory in Troy, Alabama, which has the capacity to manufacture about 2,100 Javelins a year. The trip comes as he urges Congress to quickly approve his request for an additional $33 billion in security and economic aid for Kyiv. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Monday he hopes a quick bipartisan agreement on the security package can be reached so the Senate can begin considering it “as soon as next week”.

A White House official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and insisted on anonymity, said the Pentagon was working with defense contractors “to assess the health of the systems’ production lines. ‘weapons and examine the bottlenecks’ in the manufacturing process. The administration is also considering a range of options, if necessary, to increase production of Javelins and Stingers, the official said.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday that US military readiness does not depend on one system. He said whenever the Pentagon develops a set of weapons and systems to send to Ukraine, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the department assess the impact on readiness.

“It’s not about counting, say, javelins and being able to say that when you hit a certain level, you’re not ready anymore,” Kirby said. “The Javelin is an anti-armour capability, so we judge all of that as a conglomeration of our ability to respond to this particular set of missions, realizing that a Javelin isn’t the only capability you have against armour. “

The light but deadly Javelin helped the Ukrainians inflict significant damage on the larger and better equipped Russian army. As a result, the weapon acquired an almost mythical regard, celebrated with a javelin song and images of Mary Magdalene wielding a javelin becoming a meme in Ukraine.

The evacuations, if successful, would represent rare progress. (CNN, AZOV REGIMENT, MARIUPOL MAYOR’S OFFICE, RUSSIA 24, US EMBASSY UKRAINE, FACEBOOK, MAXAR)

Lockheed Martin CEO James Taiclet said in a recent interview with CNBC that demand for the Javelin and other weapon systems will greatly increase over time due to the Russian invasion. He said the company was working “to speed up our supply chain.”

“We have the capacity to meet current production demands, are investing in increased capacity and exploring ways to further increase production as needed,” Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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