US has highest defense budget in the world. 3.7 times #2 China.
Yet the US is having difficulty supplying Ukraine & its own military and fulfilling prior sales of defense equipment to Taiwan.
From Rockets to Ball Bearings, Pentagon Struggles to Feed War Machine
The Navy admiral had a blunt message for the military contractors building precision-guided missiles for his warships, submarines and planes at a moment when the United States is dispatching arms to Ukraine and preparing for the possibility of conflict with China.
“Look at me. I am not forgiving the fact you’re not delivering the ordnance we need. OK?” Adm. Daryl Caudle, who is in charge of delivering weapons to most of the Navy’s East Coast-based fleet, warned contractors during an industry gathering in January.
His open frustration reflects a problem that has become worryingly apparent as the Pentagon dispatches its own stocks of weapons to help Ukraine hold off Russia and Washington warily watches for signs that China might provoke a new conflict by invading Taiwan: The United States lacks the capacity to produce the arms that the nation and its allies need at a time of heightened superpower tensions.
so far, the United States sent Ukraine so many Stinger missiles from its own stocks that it would take 13 years’ worth of production at recent capacity levels to replace them. It has sent so many Javelin missiles that it would take five years at last year’s rates to replace them, according to Raytheon, the company that helps make the missile systems.
If a large-scale war broke out with China, within about one week the United States would run out of so-called long-range anti-ship missiles, a vital weapon in any engagement with China, according to a series of war-game exercises conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.
How did we reach this sorry state of affairs?
Well defense industry concentration is one reason.
There are only two contractors today that build large numbers of rocket motors for missile systems used by the Air Force, the Navy, the Army and the Marines, down from six in 1995.
A recent fire disrupted the assembly line at one of the two remaining suppliers, Aerojet Rocketdyne, causing further delays in delivering the SM-6 and other precision missile systems, even as Pentagon orders for thousands of new missiles pile up.
There is also only one company, Williams International, that builds turbofan engines for most cruise missiles, according to Seth G. Jones, a former Defense Department official now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, weapons that would be vital for any war with China given their long range.
And another reason is the defense industry lobbying for expensive new weapon platforms over munition production. Why? Because that is a high margin cost plus business.
But the lower-priced items — like the missiles and other munitions — became an easy way to cut budgets to keep up spending on the big-ticket items.
“It’s becomes very attractive when our budgets are being balanced, to balance them on the munitions funds, because it’s fungible money,” Mr. LaPlante said. “We really allowed production lines to go cold and watched as parts became obsolete.”
That habit has also extended to European allies such as Poland, which has committed to buying F-35 fighter jets, which cost about $80 million a piece, but not enough missiles to use them for more than about two weeks in a war, said Mr. Hayes, the chief executive of Raytheon, whose Pratt & Whitney division builds engines for the fighter.
Of course our government is now throwing more money at munition production which will increase US defense spending which will likely surpass a trillion dollars a year soon. If the current path is continued demands will be made upon other US government spending to fund the ever expanding defense department. And the only place they can find that money is entitlements. There simply is no other place to find that scale additional spending.
See 2023 US budget pie chart: US Fed Spending Pie Chart for 2023 - Charts>
Or our government could cut back expensive new shiny weapon platforms. But that is unlikely to occur as congressional support for new weapon platforms is bought & paid for by the defense lobbyists.