Russia has forced the West to increase production of older weapons, even those it no longer made.


  • The demand for Western weapons and their production has increased dramatically.

  • This also applies to equipment that has been around for decades, and even to equipment that has been discontinued.

  • Countries want to help Ukraine and expand their own arsenals, but experts say production is falling short.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to an increase in demand, orders and production of Western weapons. This includes decades-old weapons and even weapons that were no longer in production.

The invasion has raised concerns in the West, which fears that its armed forces will not have sufficient ammunition and equipment if a major power like Russia decides to attack them.

And also that there is a worrying shortage of certain key types of weapons.

Production has increased, but experts warn that this is not enough for the needs of Western countries, neither for themselves nor for what they want to give to Ukraine.

Jan Kallberg, senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis and fellow at the Army Cyber ​​Institute at West Point, describes that the weapons orders were relatively low.

“And then all of a sudden they see an increase in sales, a need, a demand that we haven’t seen since the 1940s, or at least the 1950s, when the Cold War really started,” he told BI.

More orders and production

Defense budgets in the West are skyrocketing, while countries in the Middle East are also increasing their spending due to conflicts in the region.

The result is an increase in orders and production, even of Western equipment that had stopped production.

In January, the US military signed a $50 million contract to resume production of parts for the M777 howitzer — the first new order in five years — to be shipped to Ukraine.

Norway plans to invest to improve delivery times of its National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS), with Demand in Europe is increasing.

The US military also placed a new $1.9 billion order for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HEMAS), which have been successfully used in Ukraine.

Its maker, Lockheed Martin, is increasing production and the production of the anti-tank missile system.

Ukrainian rocketUkrainian rocket

Ukrainian soldiers monitor an M142 HIMARS firing a rocket near Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

German arms manufacturer Diehl plans to ramp up production of the IRIS-T air defense system, while France ordered companies involved in the production of Aster surface-to-air missiles, to give priority to those contracts.

Demand for the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, first fielded in the 1990s but since upgraded, has also increased dramatically. This includes a coalition of European countries jointly to order up to 1,000 missiles earlier this year.

Lockheed Martin said Production of Patriot missiles has increased from 350 per year in 2018 to 500 last year and 550 this year.

Timothy Wright, a missile technology expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the size of the production increase compared to actual demand shows that industries and governments have not responded adequately.

“I don’t think we’ve learned the whole lesson yet,” he said.

The US appears to be aware of its lag, as the Financial Times shows reporting last month that the US is halting outstanding orders for Patriot interceptor missiles until Ukraine is better supplied.

Mark Cancian, a defense strategy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said many of the new orders involve air defense systems.

The West had stopped investing in these weapons after the Cold War because it no longer saw Russia as the main threat, he said. But now that Russia is firing missiles and drones, demand is back.

Ready for Russia

Experts warn that Western militaries have not built their arsenals in recent decades with a major adversary like Russia in mind.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures in a black coat next to men in camouflage clothingRussian President Vladimir Putin gestures in a black coat next to men in camouflage clothing

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a training center in Russia’s Western Military District.Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russia has one of the largest armies in the world and the war in Ukraine shows that it is prepared for a tough, brutal fight, with many losses.

Russia has also has increased its war productionwhich could help it in the future, and not only against Ukraine.

Some European countries have warned that Russia will soon… attack another European nation if it wins in Ukraine.

That would likely draw the US into a broader war, because of NATO’s collective defense clause.

Slow progress

Ukraine has used a wide variety of weapons in its fight against Russia and has achieved notable successes, despite not having the most advanced or modern weapons in the West.

Mattias Eken, a missile defense expert at the RAND Corporation, said the West will be “reassured” by the way its equipment “works and sometimes accomplishes amazing things.”

But, he warned, “the problem is the crowd.”

Ukraine’s allies want sufficient equipment, both to give more to Ukraine and to strengthen their own arsenal.

That dual need is a problem for Ukraine. Some European countries have cited the need to keep their own arsenals full when they said they could not give Ukraine more.

Speaking about air defense, Cancian said: “Everyone agrees there aren’t enough. They’ve accelerated production to some extent, but there’s a limit to what you can do.”

Ukrainian soldier MANPADS fired anti-aircraft missile from shoulderUkrainian soldier MANPADS fired anti-aircraft missile from shoulder

A Ukrainian soldier with a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile in the Donetsk region, Ukraine.Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

According to Giorgio Di Mizio, an expert on aerial warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the problem is demand versus capability, not countries’ unwillingness to spend money.

Making new equipment takes time and there are long backlogs.

To address the problems, industrial production will need to be significantly increased.

But Kallberg said the industry needs assurances. “If you were a defense executive, you’d ask yourself, ‘If I ramp up production now, what kind of commitment can I get from governments to keep buying?'”

One solution would have been for countries to increase their orders and production earlier in the war, Di Mizio said.

“Maybe governments saw this war as a short-term issue,” he said. But he said that now, with the knowledge of today, it is easy to criticize.

He also said the defense industry operates in a way that is better suited to peacetime than wartime, “and we have not made any changes.”

Read the original article at Business insider

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