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Increasing Stinger missile production will take time, Raytheon CEO says

Raytheon Technologies produces the Stinger surface-to-air missile. (US Army)

The US Department of Defense (DoD), which has committed to providing more than 1,400 Stinger missiles to Ukraine's armed forces, will not be able to replenish its stocks soon because some of the parts in the surface-to-air weapon have become obsolete, according to US-based Raytheon Technologies, the missile's manufacturer.

“Unfortunately, DoD hasn't bought a Stinger in about 18 years, and some of the components are no longer commercially available,” Raytheon chairman and CEO Greg Hayes told analysts during his company's earnings call on 26 April. “So we're going to have to go out and redesign some of the electronics in the missile and the seeker head. That's going to take us a little bit of time.”

Raytheon is making Stingers for an international customer and has a “very limited” inventory of material for Stinger production, Hayes said. The company is working with the DoD to ramp up production as much as it can in 2022 but does not expect to receive a large replenishment order for Stingers until 2023 or 2024.

Hayes' comments came less than two weeks after DoD officials met with leaders of eight major defence contractors, including Raytheon, on 13 April to discuss options for accelerating the production of weapons the US has provided to Ukraine.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on 26 April, senators urged the DoD to move more quickly to replace equipment sent to Ukraine. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, expressed concern that the US could run out of Stingers, Javelin anti-tank missiles, and other weapons if the Ukraine conflict drags on. “The challenge is extraordinarily daunting,” he said.

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