One of the few crises the Biden Administration has been able to respond decisively on is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The White House has provided the Ukrainian military with enormous amounts of guns and ammunition, occasionally prodding the Ukrainian military when the president reverts to his customary hesitation. The defenders have been able to repel and even defeat Vladimir Putin’s troops thanks to American assistance.
Several of the weapon systems that the US has sent to Ukraine could take years to replace at the current rate of manufacturing. The shoulder-fired FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile (SAM), which has been the primary light SAM for the US Army since 1981, has seen the worst delays. Many nations have sent thousands of these missiles to Ukraine, including more than a quarter of the US stockpile; if they continue to be produced at the current rate, it would take 13 years to replace them all.
“If a war broke out with China, the US would run out of long-range anti-ship missiles in one week.”— Austin Steinbart (@A_Steinbart) March 25, 2023
“The US has sent so many Stinger missiles to Ukraine that it would take 13 years (at current rate of production) to replace them.”https://t.co/DFMsnJVyxS
That won’t actually happen because the Stinger will be replaced by 2027 and is no longer functional. To keep the production line operational for Ukraine, the missile’s maker Raytheon is redesigning it as it goes because it employs so many antiquated components. The US only has two factories that can produce the rocket motors that missiles require, so it won’t be simple to stockpile the new weapon.
We had six of them in 1995, but since the end of the Cold War, declining defense budget has weakened our defense industry. Big projects like brand-new battleships and the F-35 and B-21 stealth fighter jets have received the majority of the attention, while essential but dull assets like factories have gone unnoticed. To create enough munitions right now, we merely do not have enough production lines.
We are exposed as a result. We currently only have one factory that produces rocket engines. The SM-6 SAMs, which are designed to protect US Navy vessels against planes and missiles, are currently behind schedule. The replacement of the Javelin anti-tank missiles that were given to Ukraine could take five years.
With a 13.4% rise in defense spending over the next two years, the Biden Administration is currently attempting to increase our production capacity, but this is a problem that won’t be solved quickly.