Making new Stinger missiles will take “years” due to component shortages, says Raytheon CEO
As Ukraine burns through anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles the US has been supplying Kiev, Raytheon CEO warned on Tuesday that the company won’t be able to replenish the Pentagon stockpiles for at least several years, citing a shortage of electronic components.
“We’re going to have to go out and redesign some of the electronics in the missile and the seeker head,” Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told investment analysts during the company’s quarterly earnings call, according to Defense One. “That’s going to take us a little bit of time.”
Hayes was specifically referring to the FIM-92 Stinger, the portable air defense missile that the Pentagon has been supplying to Ukrainian troops. The FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missile, which the US has also been sending to Kiev, is produced jointly with Lockheed Martin. Ukrainian officials told the US last month that they required 500 Stingers and Javelins per day.
Raytheon hasn’t made Stingers for the US military in almost 20 years, and the ones being sent to Ukraine are coming out of the Pentagon stockpiles. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks has said Raytheon had “a very limited stock of material for Stinger production” and that the Pentagon was “actively trying to resource some of the materials,” again according to Defense One.
Hayes said he doesn’t expect the Pentagon to place “large” replenishment orders for either missile until 2023 or 2024.
Earlier in the day, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin pledged to “keep moving heaven and earth” so the US and its allies could supply Ukraine and help it “win” in the conflict with Russia. He was in Ramstein, Germany, presiding over a meeting of representatives from almost 40 countries that pledged military assistance to Ukraine. Visiting Kiev over the weekend, Austin said the US wants to see Russia “weakened” by the ongoing conflict.
Last month, the Pentagon speculated that Russia used Kinzhal hypersonic missiles against Ukrainian supply depots because it was running low on missiles. Austin wondered on March 20 if Russia was “running low on precision-guided munitions,” while his spokesman John Kirby later said the use of Kinzhals “could very well be tied to inventory problems and performance problems that they’re having with respect to PGMs,” a claim made by another Pentagon official, for which no evidence was ever provided.
The Stinger first entered service in 1981. Washington sent an unknown number of the missiles to the mujahideen in Afghanistan, claiming that they helped the Islamist guerrillas successfully nullify Soviet air superiority. Some of the missiles were later turned against American troops during the 20-year US occupation of Afghanistan, which ended last August with an airlift from Kabul.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.