Lockheed Martin is expanding its production capacity for the Javelin anti-tank missiles and other weapon systems to prepare for an expected surge in orders, according to the US defence contractor’s chief executive.
“Something this urgent, we’re going to go ahead and invest it ahead of need, as it’s called because the need’s pretty obvious,” Lockheed Martin chairman, president, and CEO James Taiclet told Washington, DC-based Atlantic Council on 29 April.
To pave the way for higher production rates, Lockheed Martin is buying more equipment, hiring more employees, and allocating more factory space. The company might also “pre-fund” its suppliers to help them “bulk up their capacity, too”, Taiclet said.
In addition to the Javelin, which the Ukrainian forces have used against Russian armoured vehicles, Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 and THAAD interceptor missiles, counter-battery radars, and guided rocket systems have generated an increased interest since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The company also makes parts for Raytheon Technologies’ Stinger anti-aircraft missile, which the US Department of Defense (DoD) has provided in large numbers to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden asked Congress on 28 April to provide $33 billion in additional funding for Ukraine-related security, humanitarian, and economic assistance.
The president toured the Lockheed Martin factory in Alabama and said Ukrainian parents are naming their children “Javelin” or “Javelina” because of the weapons’ successes.
“Every worker in this facility and every American taxpayer is directly contributing to the case for freedom,” Biden said.
The biggest pot of money, $20.4 billion, would allow the US to continue supplying military equipment to Ukraine’s armed forces, including artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapons, and unmanned aircraft. It would also support US troop deployments to NATO territory in Europe, continue surging cyber and intelligence activity, improve production capabilities for munitions and critical materials such as lithium and nickel, and help clear landmines and other explosive devices.
The U.S. has provided at least 7,000 Javelins, including some transferred during the Trump administration, or about one-third of its stockpile, to Ukraine in recent years, according to an analysis by Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies international security program. The Biden administration says it has committed to sending 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine since the Feb. 24 invasion.
“These resources will put urgently needed equipment into the hands of Ukraine’s military and police, as well as help NATO deter and defend against Russian aggression over the long term,” the White House said in a statement.
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