U.S., allies ramp up arms production

Arms stocks of Western nations supporting Ukraine dwindles

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Western governments are mobilizing their arms manufacturers to ramp up production and replenish stockpiles heavily diminished by supplying Ukraine’s six-month-old battle against Russia’s invasion.

The Pentagon has furnished some 800,000 155mm artillery rounds to Ukraine, while United States has just one factory making them, the General Dynamics plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania that produces only 14,000 rounds a month.

“We have plans… to get that in increments ultimately up to 36,000 a month in about three years,” Pentagon’s arms acquisition chief Bill LaPlante said Friday.

But that would take annual production to just over half of what Washington has given the Ukrainians in less than six months.

The Pentagon wants allies to ramp up their own production lines to help replenish stockpiles.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced this week a meeting of senior national armaments directors from allied countries to make long-term plans for supplying Ukraine and rebuilding their own arms reserves.

“They will discuss how our defense industrial bases can best equip Ukraine’s future forces with the capabilities that they need,” he said at a meeting at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany of the Ukraine Contact Group, 50 countries currently supporting the war effort.

LaPlante said the meeting would take place in Brussels on 28 September.

The goal is to determine “how we can continue to work together to ramp up production of key capabilities and resolve supply chain issues and increase interoperability and interchangeability of our systems,” LaPlante told reporters at the Pentagon.

Rebuilding supplies

At the start of the war, Ukraine’s military mostly used weapons and munitions that matched Russian standards. But within a few months those were exhausted — especially in crucial artillery and missile systems — and it has grown to depend on Western allies with North Atlantic Treaty Organization-standard arms.

But that in turn has drawn down large amounts of munitions the allies had kept for their own defense.

Rebuilding those supplies is now crucial.

In July, the European Union announced 500 million euros for joint purchases over the next two years to replenish arms provided to Kyiv.

The priority is more anti-armor and anti-aircraft missile systems, and 155mm artillery pieces and ammunition.

European Union countries “have drawn on their stocks of ammunition, light and heavy artillery, anti-aircraft and anti-tank defense systems, and even armored vehicles and tanks,” European Commissioner Thierry Breton said at the time.

“This has created a de facto vulnerability that now needs to be addressed urgently,” he warned.

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