US military considering multi-year ammunition contracts to help Ukraine


WASHINGTON — The Army is evaluating which ammunition programs are best suited for multi-year contracts if Congress approves those authorities to replenish supplies sent to Ukraine.

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate would grant the Pentagon wartime procurement powers, allowing it to use multi-year contracts to purchase massive amounts of high-priority munitions to help Ukraine fight Russia and replenish stockpiles Americans.

The bill is an amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Bill and was proposed in place of the critical munitions acquisition fund sought by the Pentagon and some lawmakers but rejected by Senate officials.

The ammunition programs most likely to see this approach would be those the service already procures at scale and with hot production lines, Doug Bush, the Army’s chief of acquisitions, told reporters Monday.

Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or GMLRS, and Patriot missiles rise to the top of mass-produced weapon systems, he said. Additionally, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, launchers could be candidates for a multi-year contract, Bush noted.

“That would be, for the military, unusual, but that could be the circumstance where it’s a good idea, but we’re still working on it and anything we do would require specific Congressional approval by the authorizers and the officials” , did he declare.

Bush said Congress was open to the Pentagon presenting the idea and the data to back it up.

“A big advantage of multi-year contracts is usually that you save a lot of money, you stabilize the industrial base and you stabilize the suppliers,” Bush told reporters at a Nov. 21 press briefing. “The downside of multi-year contracts is that you don’t have as much flexibility from year to year.”

Referring to his own experience as a House Armed Services Committee staffer, Bush said Congress “supports multi-year approaches as long as the numbers add up.”

“We will have to prove that in each individual case here where the value of doing the multi-years is demonstrable in terms of cost savings and production stability,” he added. “I think we can’t do that on everything, but there are definitely a few programs, maybe three or four for the military… where a multi-year approach could have great benefits.”

Last month, the U.S. military awarded Lockheed Martin a $521 million contract to replenish U.S. stockpiles of GMLRS, which were supplied to Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion.

Lockheed also received a $14.4 million Army contract Nov. 17 to increase production capacity to quickly replenish U.S. stocks of HIMARS after sending systems to Ukraine.

Lockheed is currently equipped to build 60 HIMARS launchers a year, but the contract, awarded in early October, will see the company ramp up production to 96 launchers a year, a company spokesperson told Defense. News.

The company has made investments in factory infrastructure and will be able to scale up production within the same factory footprint, the spokesperson added.

In September, Ukraine announced its intention to purchase 18 HIMARS, in addition to the 20 systems the United States has sent to the country.

Lockheed Martin also won a $179 million contract earlier this fall to replace HIMARS sent to Ukraine, as well as an order for GMLRS.

Last month, Bush told Defense News that the military is using several methods to expedite contracts that will replenish supplies heading to Ukraine. As of October, the US military had completed about $3.4 billion in arms and equipment contracts related to Ukraine.

Joe Gould and Bryant Harris contributed to this report.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering ground warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.


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