20 AUGUST 2023
The United States is significantly increasing the production of 155-mm artillery ammunition to provide the Armed Forces of Ukraine with a sufficient number of weapons.
Source: The Washington Post
Details: The US presidential administration has now focused on expanding the production of 155-mm artillery shells, which proved critical for Ukraine during the counteroffensive.
It is reported that in the winter, Ukrainian troops received American training in modern manoeuvres using combined-arms means, but Ukraine allegedly “largely jettisoned these tactics, instead embracing an attritional, artillery-heavy approach as it seeks to breach Russian minefields and fiercely defended lines of trenches”.US officials say this will require Ukraine to provide a reliable supply of artillery shells.
The media claim that “Ukrainian forces have created a munitions advantage on the battle’s southern front by using extended-range missiles from France and Britain to strike Russian ammunition depots behind the front lines”.
The WP, with reference to the Ukrainian Forces, writes that these strikes will be effective only when the Ukrainian Armed Forces break through the Russian Defence.
Since February 2022, the Pentagon has signed contracts for the production of 155-mm shells worth US$2.26 billion, which helped increase American production from 14,000 units per month before the full-scale Russian invasion to about 20,000 per month.
Production should soon reach 28,000 units per month, and by the autumn of 2025 the production is expected to ramp up to one million shells per year.
Officials in the United States refused to specify how much of the shells will go to Ukraine.
Various companies participate in the production of shells. The US Department of Defence is also investing in expanding production lines.
So far, US officials hope that the cluster munitions that the United States previously allowed to provide to Ukraine will help maintain momentum until more conventional shells are produced.
In the near future the range of artillery ammunition sent to Ukraine will include more cluster munitions, officials say.
The US Department of Defence wants to help Ukraine and their allies “catch up” by winter.
Some contracts meant to replenish US supplies or produce specific weapons for Ukraine were completed in 30 days or less, including deals to produce Switchblade and Phoenix Ghost UAVs and NASAM air defence systems. Multi-year contracts for the supply of ammunition were also signed for the first time.
It is also noted that the replenishment of the American arsenal will require a search for basic materials for the production of weapons, and this problem is complicated by a global shortage of chemicals and explosives.
The United States no longer produces TNT and has switched to a substitute called IMX, but a sharp increase in shell production has prompted the United States to look for new global suppliers of TNT.
According to officials, the United States has significant stocks of explosives, but as factories produce more shells, “we know we’ll need additional production of both those propellants and those explosives,” a defence official said.
The EU is also trying to solve this problem. In the summer, the EU approved a plan that provides for the production of 650,000 large-calibre ammunition per year, and pledged to supply one million artillery shells to Ukraine over the next 12 months.