(Updates with comments from army assistant secretary in paragraph 6.)
Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more.
The US Army is investing about $2 billion to expand and boost production of the munitions that have played a crucial role in the war in Ukraine.
The service is expanding several ammunition plants, including the Army’s plants in Scranton, Pa., Holston, Tenn., Radford, Va., and Middletown, Iowa, as well as several commercial plants, spokeswoman Ellen Lovett said in an emailed statement. The funds will come from Ukraine supplemental legislation and the annual defense appropriations law enacted last month.
“These investments will enable rapid replenishment of 155 mm artillery ammunition transfers to Ukraine,” Lovett said. General Dynamics Corp.’s ordnance unit is the contractor at Scranton and BAE Systems‘s ordnance unit operates the Holston and Radford plants.
The Army’s focus on boosting production of munitions comes at a critical time. The war in Ukraine has exposed serious deficiencies in the US defense industrial base, according to a Center for Strategic and International Studies report this week.
US assistance to Ukraine, while very effective, has depleted US stocks of some types of weapons systems and munitions. These include Stinger surface-to-air missiles, 155 mm howitzers and ammunition, and Javelin anti-tank missile systems, especially the command launch units. The US has been slow to replenish its arsenal, and the Pentagon has only placed on contract a fraction of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine, CSIS found.
“We are capable of ramping up quickly, because we are doing it right now,” Douglas Bush, Army assistant secretary for acquisition, told reporters Wednesday. The new investment in ammunition is “definitely dramatic,” he said.
Here is where the money is going to boost and improve Army production of 155 mm-type rounds:
- $68 million in Canada for a new metal parts line for the M795 155 mm projectile, which is the Army’s and Marine Corps’ standard high-explosive projectile for howitzers
- $115 million in northeastern Pennsylvania for modernizing and establishing a full-rate production line for the metal parts of next generation of rocket-assisted artillery, the XM1113/XM1210; these artillery will replace the rocket-assisted artillery projectiles provided to Ukraine under presidential drawdowns
- Modernization and installation of the XM1128 155 mm metal parts production line at the Scranton plant will provide an improved M795 round that includes insensitive energetics that are safer for storage and use, according to Lovett
- The Army expects to start a new capability in Texas to produce 155 mm XM1128 metal parts
- The Scranton plant will be modernized and install new equipment, improved automation, and construction for a new production building to increase metal parts artillery projectile rates, with more than $240 million in investments
As of early December, the US has committed to Ukraine more than 1 million 155 mm artillery rounds; 4,200 precision-guided 155 mm artillery rounds; and 9,000 155 mm rounds of Remote Anti-Armor Mine (RAAM) Systems, according to data shared by the Pentagon.