The US Army doubled its goal for howitzer shell production as NATO’s proxy battle against Russia rages on, a new report claims, as war hawks and war profiteers alike look to take advantage of the conflict in Ukraine.
This month’s increase means the six government-owned ammunition plants which produce most of the country’s artillery shells will increase their planned production from roughly 45,000 to 90,000 per month, the New York Times is reporting.
Prior to 2022, the Army manufactured just 14,400 unguided shells a month. But in September, military officials began working to triple that figure as Russian forces continued to inflict heavy losses on more scarcely-armed Ukrainian militants.
According to Douglas Bush, the Army’s head of acquisitions, the increased production capacity will take quite some time to kick in.
“We’re going to start seeing this summer our first significant step up in terms of rounds per month,” he reportedly stated. “The ramp really hits its stride in fiscal year 2024.”
For Western war profiteers, the conflict in Ukraine has proven to be incredibly lucrative. By 2022’s end, the share price of Northrop Grumman had risen 40% on the year, and their competitors at Lockheed Martin were up by 37%.
House Armed Services Committee member Rob Wittman (R-VA), who’s taken in hundreds of thousands of dollars from weapons manufacturers in recent years, has used the opportunity to call for a full-scale overhaul of American arms production.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has really exposed how brittle and fragile our supply chain is, particularly as it relates to munitions – which is now clearly kind of an emergency in terms of trying to replenish,” Wittman reportedly told top Pentagon officials this month.
Wittman described Russia’s ongoing military operations as a “Sputnik” moment. But like so many of his colleagues, instead of a science-based race to the moon, he seemed to be proposing a military-based race to the bottom.