Lawmakers expressed concern this week that the large-scale U.S. donations of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles to Ukraine have depleted about a third of the U.S. military’s stockpile of the weapon and could create a crucial vulnerability if the U.S. should need them.
“We have a significant usage rate for the Stingers that we’re moving over there ― Javelins, also ― and we have to not only be able to help the Ukrainians, we have to maintain our stocks,” Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) said this week.
“The United States military has probably sent about one-third of its Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine — one-third of our supply given to them,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Blumenthal said it would take about 32-months at their current rate for the U.S. military to refill its Javelin stockpiles to where they were before the conflict in Ukraine began. He is calling on President Joe Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to speed up production.
Ellen Lord, former undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment, said the timeline for replenishing the U.S. military’s Javelins could be even longer than Blumenthal’s estimate.
“Even with the Javelin, which we do have a hot production line right now, we are still five years out to, probably, developing all the munitions we need,” Lord said.
During the hearing, Lord also endorsed the idea of Biden invoking the Defense Production Act.
The U.S. military’s ability to rapidly procure weapons like the Javelin missile could prove critical if China were to mirror Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by invading Taiwan. Chinese officials have recently alluded to invading Taiwan and achieving “reunification” with the island by military force. U.S. officials believe China has been studying the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to gauge how it would react to an invasion of Taiwan. At least one Chinese professor even put up the Russian invasion as a model for how China could seize Taiwan.
“We are facing a three-year backlog on delivering weapons to Taiwan, and our current arsenal is being depleted to provide vitally needed support for Ukraine and other allies and partners in Eastern Europe,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Axios.
Greg Hayes, the CEO of Raytheon — which produced the Javelin as well as the Stinger anti-aircraft missile —said during a Tuesday company earnings call that ramping up production for the weapons “is going to take us a little bit of time,” Defense News reported.
“We’re going to ramp up production this year, but I expect this is going to be ‘23-’24 where we actually see orders come in for the larger replenishments, both on Stinger as well as on Javelin, which has also been very successful in theater,” Hayes said, referring to Ukraine.
“We are actively trying to source some of the material, but unfortunately DoD hasn’t bought a Stinger in 18 years,” Hayes added. “As far as the Stingers, we should keep in mind we are currently producing Stingers for an international customer, but we have a very limited stock of material for Stinger production.”