Artillery usage in the Ukraine war is depleting Western stockpiles of ammunition

Western arms production to ramp up as Ukraine burns stocks

The use of artillery in the war in Ukraine is depleting ammunition stocks in the West – Copyright WanNaiks Gallery/AFP Handout

Sylvia LANTO

Western governments are mobilizing their arms makers to ramp up production and replenish stocks dwindled by supplying Ukraine for a six-month battle against a Russian invasion.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced this week a meeting of senior national arms directors from allied countries to develop long-term plans to supply Ukraine and rebuild its own stockpiles of weapons.

“They will discuss how our military-industrial bases can best equip Ukraine’s future armed forces with the capabilities they need,” he said at a meeting at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany of the Contact Group on Ukraine, which currently includes 50 military-supporting countries. actions.

On Friday, Pentagon arms procurement chief Bill LaPlante said the meeting would take place in Brussels on September 28.

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

– Billions more for weapons –

Not all NATO countries have the same weapons, but their weapons are compatible. So ammunition produced in one country of the Atlantic Alliance can be used by another.

At the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian military mainly used weapons and ammunition that met Russian standards. But within a few months they were exhausted – especially in critical artillery and missile systems – and it became dependent on Western allies with NATO-standard weapons.

But this, in turn, led to the depletion of a large amount of ammunition that the Allies stored for their own protection.

Restoring these stocks is now critical.

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

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

EU countries “used their stocks of ammunition, light and heavy artillery, air defense and anti-tank defense systems, and even armored vehicles and tanks,” European Commissioner Thierry Breton said at the time.

“This created an actual vulnerability that now needs to be addressed urgently,” he warned.

The United States, Ukraine’s main defense supplier since the start of the war, has pledged $15.2 billion worth of weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, artillery and NATO-compatible munitions.

– Increasing production –

The Pentagon has supplied about 800,000 155mm artillery shells to Ukraine, while the US has only one manufacturing plant, the General Dynamics plant in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which produces just 14,000 shells a month.

“We have plans… to get that number up to 36,000 a month in about three years,” LaPlante said.

But that would require an annual production of just over half of what Washington gave the Ukrainians in less than six months.

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

The US military recently announced a host of new contracts with arms manufacturers in the United States and beyond.

It includes $364 million for 250,000 rounds for 155mm artillery ammunition from various manufacturers, $624 million for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, $324 million for Javelin anti-tank missiles, and millions more for other weapon systems, ammunition and defenses.

Dave Butler, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the decision had been made but was not specifically driven by US manufacturing capacity.

“Ukraine’s needs for this or that weapon are the main driving factor,” he said.

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