The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for 10 months now and is causing something not seen since World War II: a shortage of ammunition due to the extraordinary amounts of missiles, grenades and bullets launched. According to him Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Russia actually fired more ammunition in two days than Britain has in its regular stockpiles. Russian forces have already used, for example, almost all of their Iskander short-range missiles and there is no way to replace them. Ukraine depends on what the West sends it and the loads arrive more and more spaced.
Russia has two ballasts. The first is that China he did not launch into massive arms sales, as had been speculated at the beginning of the war. The second is the restriction on the import of microchips because of western trade sanctions. This slowed down the production of the guided missiles that he might have amassed. That is why the Kremlin had to resort to North Korea to obtain artillery shells and rockets and to Iran to buy drones and missiles. British intelligence services believe that Russia “has probably exhausted its current stocks” of the kamikaze iranian drones that so much damage was done in recent weeks to the Ukrainian energy infrastructure.
Ukraine is absolutely dependent on the West for the supply of weapons. And in that sense, the deliveries of artillery shells, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin anti-tank missiles, HIMARS rockets and other vital weapons systems are increasingly spaced out. The 29 NATO member countries have already delivered to Ukraine about 40,000 million dollars in military aid and are depleting their arsenals. “There is no question that this is putting pressure on our own stocks, it has put pressure on our defense industrial base,” said US Assistant Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl, in an interview last week.
In Washington they are considering the effectiveness of approving large amounts of money to help the Ukrainian forces when there is no adequate weaponry to send them. A new aid package is now under discussion in Congress for $37.7 billion. And it’s not that they send the money in cash, but that it has to be transformed into weapons manufactured within the US military-industrial complex. And this is not enough for such an effort. The company raytheon announced that it will need at least 24 months to deliver the six batteries of advanced technology surface-to-air missiles (NASAMS) that the Pentagon commissioned for the equivalent of $1.2 billion. In two years we all expect the war to be over.
The war in Ukraine marks a return to what the British institute RUSI describes as “war on an industrial scale”. The Russian invasion supposes “a massive consumption of people, equipment, fuel and ammunition”. “Ammunition resupply is a major undertaking the likes of which has not been seen since World War II. Both sides have deployed large forces of both tube artillery and rockets. The use of the ammunition of these weapons has been prodigiousespecially during the key phases of the Donbas campaign in May and June,” the report says.
And this worries all military circles in the world. The decrease in the ammunition stockpiles of the United States and the other countries of the NATO, begins to be a topic of national debate. According to him Wall Street Journal the issue was raised very strongly in the Pentagon and in allied power centers like Taiwan, where they fear that China could take advantage of the circumstance to attack them. There have already been meetings between Western procurement officials to address this issue and alternative sources of supply have been sought, such as the Republic of Koreafor some Ukrainian ammunition needs.
Along the way there were many promises that nobody knows when or how they will be fulfilled. The United States asked its allies to hand over their weapons systems and They will wait a few months until they can be replaced.. Something that will not happen unless Defense production lines are accelerated as was done during the world wars and for that a general mobilization of the industry is needed that is difficult to achieve in times when the United States is not being attacked or participating directly from a contest with the western allies.
And it’s not just the problem for Washington. All NATO countries reduced their defense industrial capacity after the end of the Cold War. In the United States, the number of large defense contractors dropped from 51 to five, and many production lines were closed. In recent years, those companies have focused on producing a small number of high-tech weapons systems, ideal for fighting the war on terror but insufficient for waging a protracted conflict against a conventional military power like China or Russia.
“It will require a major program of industrial expansion for Western nations to rebuild the capacity to design, produce and store the vast amounts of munitions (and platforms) that will be needed for deterrence and response missions in the 21st century,” wrote the retired Australian Major General mick ryan in one of his customary rehearsals.
“But expanding defense production will take considerable time,” he recalls in his column. corn boot of New York Times. And he recalls that “the mobilization of the United States in World War II lasted about six years, from 1938 to 1944-and, of course, today we are not going to mount a mobilization of that magnitude, unless we find ourselves in the Third World war”.
In that sense, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) says that the construction of weapons takes longer today than during World War II due to the use of high technology in all processes that cannot be replaced by greater human labor or accelerated in a short time. Boeing began designing the long-range bomber B-29 in 1938, and by 1946 it had already produced 2,766. Compared, Lockheed-Martin began to develop the fighter F-35 in 1995, and the United States only has 450 F-35s today despite an order for hundreds more. None of the missile systems going to Ukraine can compare to the technology of an F-35, but weapons like the Javelin, the Stinger, the HIMAR and even 155mm artillery shells require a specialized production capacity that only two or three companies have. And they cannot set up, from one day to the next, new production lines at an extraordinary cost if they do not have guarantees that they will continue production for years.
“The expansion of defense industrial capacity, whether at the national level or as part of a broader compact between democratic nations, is an integral part of the conventional deterrence”, explains Australian General Mick Ryan. “To defend themselves, countries need their potential adversaries to know that they can (and will) increase production if the authoritarians start a fight. Possession of an expanding industrial base is a demonstration of capacity and, more importantly, it telegraphs the will of the peoples to actively defend themselves against the depredations and aggressions of countries like Russia and China”.
General Ryan adds that: “While this issue is currently focused on supporting Ukraine to defeat Russia, in the Western Pacific a larger and more challenging question arises. The industrial capacity of nations like the United States, Japan, India, Korea and Australia is vital to deter the Chinese Communist Party’s wolf warrior diplomacy and military bellicosity. Chinese expansion in the South China Sea and President Xi’s clear plans to retake Taiwan, provide a very compelling imperative for Western rearmament and industrial expansion in order to deter Chinese aggression. And if China cannot be deterred, the nations of the western Pacific and beyond they will need a large supply of lethal long-range ammunition to stop Chinese territorial ambitions.”
Against this background, most Western defense analysts are asking Washington to speed up the delivery of the most sophisticated weapons to Ukraine in order to end this war as soon as possible and finish containing Russia before China decides to act. They talk about using F-16 fighterslong-range army tactical missile systems (ATACMS), Abrams tanks and drones Gray Eagle. For now, the Biden Administration refuses to do so. The Wall Street Journal even revealed last week that the Pentagon had ordered a change the HIMARS missile launcher system supplied to Ukraine to prevent them from firing longer-range rockets capable of reaching Russia.
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