Allies push for US weaponry after seeing impact in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — As other countries see the impact of U.S. weapons in the war in Ukraine, the Pentagon is receiving more and more requests, including the high-tech multiple-launch rocket system that Ukrainian forces successfully used against Russian ammunition depots and other supplies, defense officials said Friday.

Bill LaPlante, the department’s undersecretary for acquisitions, told reporters the Pentagon was working with the defense industry to ramp up production lines to meet U.S. and international demands for certain weapons. And he added that some countries had already started asking questions about purchasing the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS.

As a result, he said, the United States must both replace the HIMARS systems it has sent to Ukraine – at a projected cost so far of around $33 million – but also provide for the future foreign sales inquiries.

According to the Pentagon, the department is already working to replace about $7 billion worth of weapons and equipment that has been pulled from shelves so they can be delivered quickly to Ukraine. Of this amount, about $1.2 billion has already been contracted, about half of which is for Stinger missiles.

Congress has provided a total of $12.5 billion for these replacements so far this year, along with an additional $6 billion to purchase weapons and equipment directly from industry to send to Ukraine. Contracted items could take several years to arrive.

Some of the money will be spent investing in the defense industrial base so companies can expand or ramp up production.

“We remain committed to securing contracts as quickly as possible, to send a clear and persistent signal of demand to our industry partners,” LaPlante said. As an example, he said, the industry currently produces about 14,400 rounds of ammunition for the Howitzer artillery gun each month, but the plan is to produce up to 36,000 per month in about three years.

Even that amount, he noted, might not meet demands. The US military therefore contacted other companies around the world to purchase 250,000 rounds of this ammunition.

In some cases, LaPlante said, there are easy solutions to increasing production capacity and in others it requires more creativity. Restarting Stinger missile production, he said, has forced contractors to come up with alternative parts to replace obsolete parts.

Sasha Baker, undersecretary of defense for policy, said the new US defense attaché in Kyiv, Brig. General Garrick Harmon tries to better understand the most used capabilities by Ukrainian forces.

She said Harmon, who was appointed in July, gives the United States better oversight and the ability to get “real-time information about what Ukrainians are seeing and experiencing and what they might need. “.

LaPlante said he would meet with procurement and weapons officials from other NATO and allied nations later this month to discuss how to resolve supply chain issues and ramp up production. necessary equipment. He said the group will also discuss how different nations can increase the use of equipment that is interchangeable and works more easily with the systems of other allies.

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