WASHINGTON — Lockheed Martin aims to nearly double production of Javelin anti-tank missiles from 2,100 to 4,000 a year, but it needs the supply chain to “speed up,” according to its chief executive.
As the United States sends javelins from its own military stockpiles to Ukraine’s fight against RussiaLockheed is ramping up Javelin production ― but reaching that goal could take up to two years, Jim Taiclet said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
“We are working to get that to 4,000 a year, and it will take several months or even years to get there, because we also need to get our supply chain going,” Taiclet said. “We think we can almost double the capacity in a reasonable timeframe.”
Congress can help by passing the bipartisan Innovation Act to invest in domestic microprocessor design, manufacturing and testing, to reduce reliance on foreign supplies, Taiclet said. Each Javelin contains 250 microprocessors, and Lockheed is collaborating more extensively with chipmaker Intel, he added.
Lockheed, Taiclet said, plans to expand the plant in Troy, Alabama, where it manufactures the Javelin with Raytheon Technologies. US President Joe Biden visited the factory last week, and asked Congress to pass his proposal $33 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Taiclet’s comments came after the Pentagon announced on Friday that the military had awarded the Lockheed-Raytheon joint venture a $239 million contract amendment for the Javelin, with work to be carried out in Tucson, Arizona, and completed by the end of 2025. The contract, which dates from 2019, has a ceiling of approximately $2.2 billion.
Taiclet told CBS that Lockheed anticipates increased demand from the United States and its allies for advanced systems such as cruise missiles, air defenses and fighter jets due to threats from Russia and China. The company will hire more workers for its production lines in Texas and elsewhere, he said.
“We are planning for the long term, and not just in the javelin, because… the Ukrainian conflict has highlighted… that we need to have superior systems in sufficient numbers,” Taiclet said.
Several US lawmakers have expressed concern to what they see as a decrease in US arms shipments to Ukraine. The roughly 5,000 Javelin missiles the Biden administration has sent to Ukraine represent a third of US stockpiles and the 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles sent to Ukraine represent a quarter of US stockpiles, they said.
On Friday, the Pentagon acknowledged transferring $1.45 billion to the Army and Marine Corps to resupply the Javelins and Stingers. The transfer sent the military about $809 million for the Javelins and $303 million for the Stingers and sent the Marine Corps $370 million for the Stingers, according to the Pentagon comptroller’s request to Congress.
The money came from $13.6 billion aid package for Ukraine Congress passed in March, which included $3.5 billion to replace US military weapons sent to Ukraine.
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante told reporters last week that although the Pentagon has purchased the Model F Javelin, its inventory will be replenished with the new Model G.
LaPlante also said the Army was “actively negotiating” a contract with Stinger, which he expected to complete by the end of the month.
Raytheon, which makes Stingers, may not be able to manufacture more until at least 2023 due to parts and materials shortages, CEO Greg Hayes said during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call last month.
Joe Gould is a senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.