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3 Dec, 2023 15:29

US to ‘quadruple’ munitions production – Pentagon chief

Among the reasons for the move is “Ukraine’s high burn rate for artillery,” according to Lloyd Austin
US to ‘quadruple’ munitions production – Pentagon chief

Spending on the production of artillery shells by the Pentagon has almost doubled in recent years and will be increased even further, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said.

“Ukraine’s high burn rate for artillery [amid the conflict with Russia] has hammered home the need to invest even more in munitions,” Austin told the participants of the Reagan National Defense Forum at Simi Valley, California on Saturday.

This comes as Kiev’s counteroffensive has failed to deliver significant gains despite billions of dollars’ worth of military support from the US and other Western backers.

The Pentagon chief said, “Compared to the defense budget from just five years ago, we’re putting nearly 50% more money into munitions.”

“And, during this administration, America’s production of artillery shells won’t just increase, it won't just double, it will quadruple,” he claimed, without revealing any exact figures.

Austin also said the US military has launched “the most ambitious modernization effort in nearly 40 years for our defense industrial base.” It’ll see some $50 billion allocated to the sector, supporting “tens of thousands of good American jobs in more than 30 states.”  

Artillery shells will be produced in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas as part of the modernization, assuring “greater prosperity at home and greater security around the globe,” he claimed.

During his trip to Kiev two weeks ago, Austin announced a new $100 million assistance package to Ukraine, including various caliber artillery shells.

This came shortly after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that deliveries of artillery rounds to Kiev’s forces “have decreased” and “really slowed down” since another US ally, Israel, launched its military operation against Hamas on October 7 in response to an incursion by the latter. According to Zelensky, competition for munitions between countries has intensified, particularly for shells of NATO’s standard 155mm caliber.

The flow of US-made artillery ammunition to Ukraine has dwindled by “more than 30%,” ABC reported mid-November, citing an unnamed Ukrainian official.

In September, Ukrainian MP Alexandra Ustinova told CNN that the country was firing up to 6,000 rounds daily amid its counteroffensive, but the military wanted to shoot more than 10,000. Even this number was “a fraction” of the ammunition deployed by Russia.

Earlier this week, Zelensky announced on social media that Kiev’s forces will switch to building fortifications, acknowledging that the counteroffensive, which began in early June, failed to deliver the desired results. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Ukraine has lost over 125,000 troops and 16,000 pieces of heavy equipment in unsuccessful attempts to advance over the past six months.

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