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Aerospace and defense group Lockheed Martin plans to increase the annual production rate of its Himar, the missile launcher that has become a critical weapon system for Ukraine’s military in its fight against Russia.
“We started the year at the age of 48”, that was “graded [up] to 60″ since the Russian invasion, Chief Operating Officer Frank St. John told the Financial Times following the company’s third-quarter results on Tuesday.
Lockheed expects it will take 18 to 24 months to bring production levels to 96, St. John said.
“We’ve also secured approximately $65 million in pre-financing with our supply chain that will help accelerate this ramp up even further,” he continued.
Western countries have armed Ukraine with tens of billions of dollars worth of equipment by sending weapons to their national stockpiles. This has left the defense groups tasked with ramping up production of several weapons to replenish those stockpiles.
However, the additional Himars — or high-mobility artillery missile systems — will serve not only to replenish US inventories, but to address “strong international demand that we are seeing in Eastern Europe and the Pacific,” including Australia, St. John , to satisfy said.
So far, the US has sent about 16 Himars to Ukraine, while European governments have sent 10 equivalent systems. Last month, the Pentagon pledged to send another 18 rocket launchers to Ukraine, although it will take a few years for those to arrive.
The Pentagon said in August it had received nearly $400 million to replenish its stockpile of Himars and multiple-launch guided missile systems and would invest another $200 million to expand and accelerate weapons production. Those Pentagon dollars could be used for contract awards, setting up new production lines, and adding more shifts of workers. Lockheed, one of the Pentagon’s top five contractors, manufactures Himars in Camden, Arkansas.
Lockheed reported earnings slightly above analysts’ estimates and said it would buy back $14 billion of stock over the next three years. Shares closed 8.7 percent higher.
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