US scrambles to replenish Stinger arsenal after arming Ukraine


The Pentagon is scrambling to replenish its supply of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles after sending 1,400 of shoulder-fired systems to Ukraine in the fight against Russia.

Greg Hayes, CEO of Raytheon Technologies, told analysts on Tuesday that with limited component parts in its inventory and a production line that has been idle for years, restocking the Army’s own supply of Stinger is easier said than done.

“We were working with the company [Department of Defense] Over the last few weeks,” Mr Hayes said during Tuesday’s first-quarter earnings call. “We are actively trying to provide some of the material. Unfortunately, DOD hasn’t purchased a Stinger for nearly 18 years, and some of the components are no longer commercially available.”

Mr Hayes said before renewing production, Raytheon needed to redesign some electronic components that no longer exist in the missile’s seeker head.

“This will take some time,” he said. “This year, we will increase production as much as we can. But I hope that will happen in ’23 – ’24, where we see orders coming in for larger replenishment at both Stinger and Javelin, which has been very successful in theater as well.”

In addition to providing about a quarter of Stinger’s supply to Ukraine, the United States has also shipped 5,500 Javelin anti-tank guns, which lawmakers warn are facing a similar delay in production.

SEE ALSO: US and allied military leaders challenge Kremlin with new Ukraine aid plans

Congress has approved $3.5 billion in financing for the Pentagon to replenish its own weapons depots, including Stingers, after its deadly aid to Ukraine.

But funding is only half the battle, according to former Undersecretary of Defense Procurement and Sustainability Ellen M. Lord, who says the Pentagon’s challenges in replacing its Stingers point to a more fundamental issue with the US defense industry base.

He said that without consistent and predictable weapons orders from the Pentagon, production lines naturally go dormant and supply chains dry up.

“We can’t produce more in the next few years because we have a problem with the government not paying to maintain production capacity,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. “When this happens, your test equipment becomes obsolete and inoperable. You have disconnected supply chains, and especially if we have key elements of that supply chain currently provided by hostile countries.”

Lawmakers began sounding the alarm about the Pentagon’s dwindling Stinger arsenal shortly after the United States began shipping weapons to Ukraine. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chief of Staff General Mark Milley in March, House Armed Forces Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington Democrat and Republican of Alabama Mike Rogers, “apparently noted his absence. Defense Department plan to replenish US stock of Stinger shipped to Ukraine”.

“We believe this is the most pressing issue,” the lawmakers wrote.

Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said at Tuesday’s hearing that it could take more than two years to replenish the United States’ Javelin supply and urged President Biden to introduce the Defense Production Act to quickly replenish the arsenal before it’s too late.

“The cabinet is empty or it will be in a very, very short time unless the president enacts the Defense Production Act to quickly provide this demand signal,” Mr Blumenthal said on Tuesday.

Lord also raised the Defense Production Act as a potential solution, but said the United States should also relax restrictions on foreign manufacturers that could increase production capacity.

“Even with the Javelin, where we now have a hot production line, we probably still have five years to develop all the ammunition we need,” Lord said.


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