President Trump recently followed through on a campaign pledge by announcing plans to increase defense spending by $54 billion.
And For the U.S. Army in particular, the timing couldn’t be better.
It seems the combined effects of additional strikes against terrorist groups like the Islamic State, along with nearly five years of funding cuts during the Obama administration, have produced shortages in several key munitions.
Although the Army’s leadership feels their current inventory levels can meet legacy demands, there is a significant risk of shortages if more or larger operations came to fruition. So what this really becomes is a readiness concern.
The specific munitions in shortened supply include Hellfire missiles that can be fired from the ground or air by drones, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, and Excalibur rounds and guidance systems fired from Howitzers.
These three share the “smart bomb” functionality preferred by the Army for more precise targeting in highly populated areas. They also carry production cycles upwards of 18 months.
The Army has proposed spending $1.5 billion by 2018 to ensure healthy missile inventory levels while simultaneously advancing its Tactical Missile System. Ideally, another $1 billion could be used to upgrade short-range air defense capabilities and the anticipated Patriot missile needs.
The leading suppliers of these munitions include Boeing, Lockheed, Raytheon and BAE Systems.