US Supplies of Ammunition and Eeapons Depleted For Aiding the Ukraine War

US Supplies of Ammunition and Eeapons Depleted For Aiding the Ukraine War
US Supplies of Ammunition and Eeapons Depleted For Aiding the Ukraine War

International Military - In the near future, the United States will not be able to provide Ukraine with certain types of ammunition that are essential for its fight against the Russian invasion. Because Washington's supplies were running out faster than new ammunition would arrive as replacements.

Washington has been by far the biggest arms supplier to Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion on February 24, during which more than $16.8 billion in military aid was provided. "But inventories of some US equipment are reaching the minimum levels required for war planning and training, and replenishment to pre-invasion levels could take years," said Mark Cancian, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). AFP, Saturday (8/10/2022).

A US military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Washington was "learning lessons" from the conflict about the need for ammunition in a great power war, which is "much bigger" than expected. American defense companies were forced to drastically reduce production in the 1990s when the United States cut defense spending after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and their numbers fell dramatically, from tens to single digits.

Now, the US government must convince industry to reopen assembly lines and relaunch production of items such as the Stinger anti-aircraft missile, which hasn't been made since 2020. Some of the equipment the US provides has become a symbol of war in Ukraine, such as the Javelin anti-tank gun. which was widely used by Kiev forces to blunt Russian advances in the capital, and HIMARS, a precision rocket system that now plays a key role in retaliatory strikes against Moscow forces in eastern and southern Ukraine.

But the US ammunition stockpile for HIMARS which fires GPS-guided rockets known as GMLRS, with a range of more than 80 km is dwindling. “If the United States sends a third of that stockpile to Ukraine (as happened with the Javelin and Stinger), Ukraine will receive 8,000 to 10,000 rockets.

That stockpile is likely to last several months, but, when supplies run out, there's no alternative," said Cancian, who previously worked on procuring weapons for the US government. "Production is about 5,000 per year. Although the United States is working to increase that number, and money has recently been allocated for that purpose, it will take years," he said, adding that older equipment could help fill the gap.

The United States has provided about 8,500 Javelin missiles to Kiev, but production of the weapon that has become a symbol of Ukraine's resistance is only about 1,000 a year. The US government ordered $350 million worth of missiles in May, but again it will be several years before supplies are replenished. The United States has also supplied more than 800,000 NATO standard 155mm artillery shells to Kiev, three-quarters of the total delivered by all Western countries. That's according to official Pentagon statistics.

"The number of bullets that Washington supplies may be close to the limit the United States is willing to provide without risking its own warfighting capabilities," Cancian said. US production of shell munitions currently stands at 14,000 per month, but the Pentagon has announced that it aims to increase that figure to 36,000 within three years. That would still only bring annual output to 432,000—less than half of what it had been given to Ukraine in seven months.

Laura Cooper, a senior US Department of Defense official responsible for Russia and Ukraine, said US defense industrial production would accelerate. "The United States will continue to support the Ukrainian people and provide them with the security assistance they need to defend themselves for as long as necessary," he said.

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