The Pentagon is trying to increase production of artillery
by 500 percent in two years, pushing production of conventional munitions to levels not seen since the Korean War, as it invests billions of dollars to offset shortages caused by the war in Ukraine and stockpile for future conflicts.
The NYT writes about it.
The effort, which will include expanding plants and bringing in new manufacturers, is part of "the most aggressive modernization in nearly 40 years" of the U.S. defense industrial base, according to an Army report.
The new investment in artillery production is partly a concession to reality: while the Pentagon has focused on waging wars with a small number of more expensive precision weapons, Ukraine relies mostly on howitzers that fire unguided projectiles.
Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, the U.S. military's production of 14,400 unguided munitions per month was sufficient for the way the U.S. military waged war.
But the need to provide for Kyiv's armed forces prompted Pentagon chiefs to triple production targets in September and then double them again in January so that they could eventually produce 90,000 or more rounds a month.
Unguided artillery shells have become a cornerstone of the 11-month-old conflict, in which Ukrainian and Russian forces fire thousands of howitzer shells at each other every day along more than 600 miles of frontline.
These weapons most likely account for the largest percentage of casualties in the war.
The Army's decision to expand artillery production is the clearest indication yet that the United States plans to support Ukraine no matter how long the war lasts.
The ammunition the US has sent to Ukraine includes not only 155 mm howitzer shells, but also guided missiles for HIMARS launchers, thousands of anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, and more than 100 million small arms rounds.
Howitzer shells currently being produced—essentially large steel balls filled with explosives—cannot be manufactured as quickly as many consumer products.
Although the way they are made is slowly changing with increasing automation and new technologies, the essence of the process—cutting, heating, forging, and bending the steel into shape—remains largely unchanged.
The Defense Department will fund new artillery munitions production facilities and spend about $1 billion a year over the next 15 years to modernize the nation's munitions manufacturing facilities to increase automation, improve worker safety and, ultimately, make munitions faster.
Since August alone, Congress has appropriated $1.9 billion to the military for this effort.
"We're working really closely with industry to increase their capacity as well as the speed at which they're able to produce," said Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army.
Douglas R. Bush, the assistant secretary of the Army who is the top procurement official, said the United States is one of the few countries that maintains a significant stockpile of such weapons in both wartime and peacetime.
"In previous conflicts, we had supplies that were sufficient for the conflict," Bush said.
"In this case, we are looking to increase production to preserve our reserves for other contingencies, as well as to secure an ally."
"So this is a somewhat new situation," he added.
The unguided projectiles currently in production are just under three feet long, weigh about 100 pounds, and are packed with 24 pounds of explosives—enough to kill people within 150 feet of impact and injure defenseless soldiers more than 400 feet away.
So far, the United States has sent more than one million explosive devices into Ukraine, and other NATO countries and major non-NATO allies of the United States have also sent devices, mostly without disclosing their numbers.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the size of its stockpile of 155mm shells, but Bush said the planned increase in production would meet Ukraine's needs in real time and replenish the number removed from existing stockpiles.
"This summer we're going to start seeing our first significant step in terms of rounds per month," he said of production targets.
"In fiscal year 2024, growth is really succeeding," he confirmed.
The situation with shells for the Ukrainian military
We will remind you that earlier it was reported that
Norway delivered another 10,000 artillery shells to Ukraine
These shells can be used in several types of artillery, including the M109 howitzers transferred by Norway last year.
Earlier, American journalists wrote that the
USA produces as many shells in a month as the Armed Forces spend in two days
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the NSDC, reported that the production of 152 and 122 mm projectiles was established at Ukrainian enterprises.
And in the recently announced new package of military aid from the United States for Ukraine, among other things, 500 high-precision artillery shells of 155 mm were specified;
45 thousand 152 mm artillery shells;
20 thousand 122 mm artillery shells;
50,000 122 mm shells for Grad systems;
100,000 125 mm tank shells.
War in Ukraine
News of Ukraine: video
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