US Army says it needs $3bn for 155mm artillery rounds and production

08 November 2023 - 09:00
By Mike Stone
Serviceman of an artillery unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vitalii, 22-years-old, fires a Giatsint-B howitzer towards Russian troops at a position near a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at an undisclosed location in Donetsk region, Ukraine, November 4, 2023.
Image: REUTERS/Alina Smutko Serviceman of an artillery unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vitalii, 22-years-old, fires a Giatsint-B howitzer towards Russian troops at a position near a frontline, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at an undisclosed location in Donetsk region, Ukraine, November 4, 2023.

The US Army needs Congress to approve $3.1bn (R56.9bn) to buy 155mm artillery rounds and expand production to quickly replace stocks depleted by shipments to Ukraine and now Israel, an army official said on Tuesday.

The US and allies have sent more than 2-million rounds of 155mm ammunition to Ukraine in support of its effort to repel Russia's invasion more than 600 days ago. The US has also sent the artillery to Israel as it fights Hamas.

Doug Bush, the chief weapons buyer for the army, told reporters that supplemental funding currently being considered by Congress as a apart of President Joe Biden's $106bn request would go to modernise or build 155mm artillery production facilities across many states including Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and California.

“The funding will expand production lines, strengthen the American economy and create new jobs,” Bush told reporters.

Of the $3.1bn specific to 155mm artillery, about half would go to boosting industrial capacity with the remainder going to buying rounds, Bush said.

Other parts of Biden's $106bn supplemental request, outside the $3.1bn earmarked for 155mm artillery, would go to funding expansion of other munitions, Bush said, including funds to boost the annual production rate of Patriot air defence interceptors to 650 from 550.

Demand for 155mm artillery rounds has soared in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Allies' supplies for their own defence have been run down as they have rushed shells to Kyiv, which fires thousands of rounds per day.

The US plans to increase its monthly production rate for 155mm artillery shells to 100,000 in 2025.

In its most recent earnings report General Dynamics said it benefited from Pentagon spending to replace equipment sent to Ukraine, including 155mm artillery.

Reuters