US Congress changes legislation to increase ammunition production

The war in Ukraine has shattered many certainties about armed conflict in recent months, including the supposed superiority of units made up of professionals over units of conscripts or reservists, the supreme role of aviation on the battlefield, or the supposed obsolescence of the combat tank. One of the most widespread certainties, including at the highest level of the armies, was that a high-intensity conflict, such as the one unfolding today, could not be extended over time, the excess of power fire and precision ammunition necessarily leading to the rapid collapse of one or other of the belligerents. After 10 months of combat of an intensity forgotten since the Korean War, it is clear that such is not the case, and that if a high-intensity conflict actually leads to an extraordinary consumption of ammunition and means, it can , obviously, will be called upon to extend over many months, even over years.

This revelation has come to hit, in recent months, the military programming of many countries, in particular those which provide logistical and military support to Ukrainian fighters, by sending ammunition and equipment each month in order to resist Russian aggression. This support, however, has considerably eroded the ammunition stocks available to Western armies, in Europe but also in the United States, to the point that the US Congress took up the subject during work on the 2023 US defense budget, in order not only to absorb the ammunition deficits generated by the support to Ukraine, but also to acquire an industrial capacity adapted to the consumption of ammunition in the event of a high-intensity conflict.

Stinger Ukraine Defense Analytics | Russian-Ukrainian conflict | Defense Contracts and Calls for Tenders
A Ukrainian soldier armed with a Stinger missile- August 11, 2022. REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva

The most visible measure taken by the House of Representatives, and validated by a vote of 350 against 80, was to increase the appropriations devoted to the purchase of new ammunition to reach $8 billion in 2023, i.e. the defense budget of a country like Finland, with an increase of €2,7 billion compared to the budget initially planned for this. But the most important provision made by the American parliamentarians is not budgetary, but legal. In fact, until now, ammunition acquisitions were processed annually, unlike major armament programs which were subject to multi-annual planning. To meet short-term needs in order to replenish stocks, but also to allow industrialists to scale their production tool serenely, American representatives have incorporated into the 2023 Defense Finance Law, a set of measures making the framework for the acquisition of ammunition, in particular by authorizing the negotiation of multi-annual contracts in this area.


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