Several signs point to the United States defense industry being under significant strain due to the war between Russia and Ukraine. The amount of military equipment and ammunition provided to Ukraine may deplete U.S. stocks, especially if the war continues.
Large American defense companies such as Lockheed Martin are reporting significant difficulty in meeting the demand of both the Pentagon and the war in Ukraine. For example, Lockheed Martin cannot produce enough HIMARS missiles for what is requested for Ukraine.
Washington furnished Ukraine with 38 such systems and more than 5,000 such missiles. Lockheed Martin can produce about 4,600 such missiles annually.
Furthermore, the supply of arms and ammunition to Ukraine may be restricted due to manufacturing shortages.
Defense experts point to dwindling American ammunition stocks as the war in Ukraine drags into year two.
Some supplies are less vulnerable to shortages due to massive American production, including small arms ammunition. However, the Pentagon has transferred a number of artillery shells, rockets, and missile defenses that are more difficult to produce in quantity.
For example, the United States produces about 2,350 artillery shells per month. So far, Ukraine has received about 1 million such shells and uses approximately 6,000 of these rounds per day.
Furthermore, the United States also provided a number of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, which are being depleted quickly. Within two months, American stockpiles of the missiles decreased by a third. The Biden administration has sent about 8,500 such weapons systems to Ukraine.
Some weapons in demand are no longer produced. Prior to the current war, defense company Raytheon stopped producing Stinger anti-air missiles. The company announced that it would take 18 months to begin building these systems again.
One solution may be to draw down the large stock of artillery shells from South Korea, but this comes with significant risks. One of the documents allegedly leaked by airman Jack Teixeira stated that Washington sought to send South Korean shells to Ukraine.
Without proper means to reproduce such shells, Seoul could face significant challenges.
South Korea's huge stockpile of artillery is drawing attention as a potential source for easing Ukraine's ammunition shortage amid its fight against Russia. https://t.co/MuvIVITYdX
— The Japan Times (@japantimes) April 24, 2023
Should the United States or an American ally such as Taiwan or South Korea be embroiled in war, these stocks could run low or out.