The US Army is considering multiyear contracts for munitions to assist Ukraine.
The Army is considering which munitions programs could be more beneficial to both Ukraine and the US if Congress authorizes these replenishment supplies to Ukraine.
The Pentagon would be granted wartime procurement powers through bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate, allowing it to use multiyear contracts to buy large amounts of high-priority munitions to help Ukraine fight Russia and replenish US reserves.
The Pentagon and some lawmakers wanted a critical munitions acquisition fund in the annual defense authorization bill, but Senate appropriators rejected it. So instead, the proposed legislation is an amendment.
“Whether you want to call it wartime contracting or emergency contracting, we can’t play around anymore. We can’t pussyfoot around with minimum-sustaining-rate buys of these munitions. It’s hard to think of something as high on everybody’s list as buying a ton of munitions for the next few years, for our operational plans against China and continuing to supply Ukraine,” said a senior congressional aide who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to communicate with the press.
According to Army Acquisition Chief Doug Bush, munitions programs are already being purchased in large quantities. The GMLRS and Patriot missiles are among the weapons systems produced in large volumes, as well as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS launchers, which may be the subject of a multiyear contract.
“That would be, for the Army, unusual, but this could be the circumstance where it’s a good idea, but we’re still working on that and anything we do would require specific congressional approval by both authorizers and appropriators,” he said.
Bush says the Pentagon has provided Congress with the data and the justification to propose the initiative.
According to Bush, the advantages of multiyear contracts are that you save a lot of money, stabilize the industrial base, and stabilize suppliers. The disadvantages, on the other hand, are that you don’t have as much flexibility from year to year.
Bush noted that he served on the House Armed Services Committee and that Congress has traditionally been favorably disposed to multiyear programs as long as the numbers add up.
The US must demonstrate in each and every situation that the multiyear approach would have cost savings and production stability, and there are a few Army programs, perhaps three or four, where a multiyear system would have tremendous benefits, he said.
The US Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract valued at $521 million to replenish US GMLRS supplies, which have been sent to Ukraine to push back against Russian aggression.
Lockheed received an Army contract worth $14.4 million to increase production capacity to rapidly replenish US stocks of HIMARS after sending systems to Ukraine.
A company spokesperson told Defense News that Lockheed is currently tooled to build 60 HIMARS launchers per year, but the recently awarded contract will allow them to ramp up production to 96 launchers per year.
The spokesperson said factory infrastructure investments have been made, and production can be scaled within the same factory footprint.
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Ukraine recently announced its intent to purchase 18 HIMARS rocket launchers in addition to the 20 systems the United States has supplied.
In addition to winning a $179 million contract in early September to provide HIMARS launchers to Ukraine, Lockheed Martin won a $109 million contract in late August to provide GMLRS rockets.
In September, the Army sought to fast-track contracts to resupply Ukrainian forces. As of October, the US military has awarded roughly $3.4 billion in contracts for equipment and supplies for Ukraine.
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