Skip to comments.U.S. Boosts Precision Weapon Stocks
Posted on 07/15/2002 11:54:16 PM PDT by kattracks
WASHINGTON, Jul 15, 2002 (AP Online via COMTEX) -- U.S. weapons makers have doubled the production rate of laser-guided bombs, added a shift to assemble satellite-guided bomb tailkits and boosted output at one ammunition factory to its highest level in 15 years.
Some of the ordnance will replace weapons used in the war in Afghanistan, but another reason for the buildup is to stockpile weapons for possible military action against Iraq, analysts say.
President Bush has said he wants to see Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein removed from power, accusing Saddam of hoarding chemical and biological weapons and seeking nuclear bombs. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld say they have no immediate plans to go to war against Iraq, however.
"The job of Central Command is to be prepared for that Iraq contingency, and that plan is probably pretty well in development," said retired Rear Adm. Stephen Baker, a former naval operations director for Central Command.
"One thing they need to do is bring the stockpiles up, particularly of the laser-guided bombs and JDAMs and Tomahawk missiles."
JDAM stands for Joint Direct Attack Munition, the satellite-guided bomb that has been a favorite U.S. weapon in the war in Afghanistan. Military planners love the JDAM for its pinpoint accuracy and relatively low cost of less than $25,000 each.
About 9,000 new JDAMs have been built this year, compared with about 10,000 total by the end of last year. Analysts have estimated that more than half of the first 10,000 JDAMs were used in Afghanistan and even more would be needed for an attack on Iraq.
The military still has only a fraction of the 40,000 to 50,000 JDAMs it wants, said analyst John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org.
"They had obviously used up a significant fraction of what was on hand, and what was on hand a year ago was only a small fraction of what they want to have on hand," Pike said.
Precision weapons like JDAMs would be key to any attack on Iraq, since they would allow the United States to focus its firepower on Saddam's military infrastructure while minimizing civilian casualties. The accurate weapons also allow the same number of planes to hit more targets in less time.
Pike said one Navy admiral has credited the JDAM with increasing the lethality of an aircraft carrier fivefold.
"It's only when you start thinking about that quantum leap in air power lethality that it starts to become plausible that you could take military action against Iraq without having a massive, multi-month (troop) buildup like they had a decade ago," Pike said.
A Boeing Co. factory in St. Charles, Mo., assembles the JDAM kits, which fit over the tail of 1,000-pound or 2,000-pound "dumb" bombs to turn them into satellite-guided weapons.
Earlier this year, the factory added a second shift of workers to increase production from about 1,000 kits per month to 1,500, said Boeing spokesman Robert Algarotti. The company plans to boost production even further, to 2,000 per month by the end of the year and 2,800 per month by the middle of 2003.
Those rates would add another 20,000 or more JDAMs to the U.S. arsenal within a year and about 37,000 by the end of 2003. At the highest rate, Boeing could make enough JDAMs to fill out the 40,000 stockpile in about 14 months.
Raytheon Co. makes laser-guided bombs at a factory in Tucson, Ariz. That factory has added a partial third shift, doubled its production rate and is delivering the laser-guided bombs five months ahead of schedule, said Raytheon spokeswoman Sara Hammond.
Hammond declined "for competitive reasons" to discuss the precise number and rates of laser-guided bombs being made.
The United States has tens of thousands of laser-guided bombs on hand, so the need for them is not as critical. Still, up to several thousand have been used in Afghanistan and thousands would be used in any attack on Iraq.
Pike said the military had enough laser-guided bombs and must simply replace those used.
"With the JDAM, they didn't have nearly as much as they wanted and used up much of what they had," he said. "So they have to not only replace what was used but significantly increase the total number."
Raytheon's Tucson operation also makes the Tomahawk missile, another precision weapon launched from Navy ships and submarines. The United States used dozens of the missiles in the war in Afghanistan and during the 1991 Persian Gulf War to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.
While Raytheon does not have a contract to make more Tomahawks, it has sped up the process of upgrading older missiles, Hammond said. The company recently finished upgrading 644 of the missiles six months ahead of schedule, she said.
At the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo., production is at its highest rate in 15 years - higher than during the Gulf War. The plant recently got a $92 million contract to make 265 million rounds of small-caliber ammunition for the Army.
Some of that will be used for increased training and some will go into the Army's regular ammunition stockpile, said Karen Engelbret, a spokeswoman for Lake City plant owner Alliant Techsystems.
On the Net:
Alliant Techsystems: http://www.atk.com
By MATT KELLEY Associated Press WriterCopyright 2002 Associated Press, All rights reserved
Highest level in 15 years huh???
Wonder when the fireworks will start
We have 450,000 more than we need, and action is imminent!!! Somewhere big....
Devote 50 B1's to sortie from Diego Garcia, Twice a day (two crews) = 2400 high-altitude 2klb precision guidance weapons a day.
Add another 1500 from B52's.........and another 2000 from tactical aircraft and you could get a real conflagration going real quick.
Around 6000 PRECISE hits per day.......plus the "special" bunker/CCC hits and these folks will fold in less than a week. More than one bomb for every tank and aircraft they have, every day.
We'll have to intervene to keep the Kurds from killin' 'em all.
IF ya'll thought the first Gulf war was spectacular, wait for part deux. There were so few targets in Afganistan we couldn't show off much. But Iraq is a target rich environment and this'll be a real show.
In exchange for airfields, I'd guess the Turks, Hashemites and Persians will get to divide the spoils......just the way things used to be, and rightfully so according to some.
We need every single one of them
I think gross waste is indivisible from the military. For the people at the bottom, it's feast or famine. And at the top, you generally have to count on paying triple.
Someday I hope I get the honor of spitting on his grave.
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