The US Is Running Out of Bombs — and It May Soon Struggle to Make More

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July 2, 2018 | Originally published by Date Line: July 2 on

The Pentagon plans to invest more than $20 billion in munitions in its next budget. But whether the industrial base will be there to support such massive buys in the future is up in the air — at a time when America is expending munitions at increasingly intense rates.

The annual Industrial Capabilities report, put out by the Pentagon’s Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, has concluded that the industrial base of the munitions sector is particularly strained, something the report blames on the start-and-stop nature of munitions procurement over the last 20 years, as well as the lack of new designs being internally developed.

Some suppliers have dropped out entirely, leaving no option for replacing vital materials. Other key suppliers are foreign-owned, with no indigenous capability to produce vital parts and materials ― setting up the risk that a conflict with China could rely on Chinese-made parts.

And the military’s desire to tinker with existing designs rather than create band-new weapons has left the industrial base with a lack of design experience, which means “design skills for critical components within the missile sector industrial base are at risk,” the authors write.

Additional information can be found in:

Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Report
Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Industrial Capabilities Report to Congress

GAO-18-435 Report to the Chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives
Defense Industrial Base: Integrating Existing Supplier Data and Addressing Workforce Challenges Could Improve Risk Analysis

GAO-17-768 Report to the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives
Defense Supply Chain: DOD Needs Complete Information on Single Sources of Supply to Proactively Manage the Risks