WASHINGTON: The top two leaders of the House Armed Services Committee are sounding the alarm for the US military to develop a modern short range air defense system that would allow it and its allies to replenish the thousands of Stinger anti-aircraft systems that are currently being transferred to Ukraine.
In a March 18 letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, HASC Chairman Adam Smith and HASC Ranking Member Mike Rogers expressed concern that the provision of Stingers to Ukraine could potentially dwindle US Army and Marine Corps stockpiles, as well as those of other allies delivering the weapon to the Ukrainian military.
“We believe this is a matter of the highest urgency,” Smith, D-Wash., and Rogers, R-Ala., wrote in the letter, which Breaking Defense exclusively obtained.
Smith and Rogers implored the Pentagon to accelerate the development of a short range air defense (SHORAD) system that could replace the FIM-92 Stinger, a Raytheon Technologies-produced system that was designed in the late 1960s.
“The committee urges focus on the most rapid possible development, testing, and fielding of a more capable SHORAD system and would favorably consider an appropriate reprogramming request to get this started,” they wrote.
Specifically, the lawmakers said the new system should be low-cost, exportable to allies and available in 36 months.
“Events in Europe have demonstrated the importance of such a capability and the need for the Army and Marine Corps to develop a plan to invigorate the industrial base, buy-down strategic risk in our current capability, and accelerate the development of a follow-on SHORAD system that can be rapidly fielded,” Smith and Rogers wrote.
While the Army has previously signaled interest in replacing Stinger, a program of record has not materialized. In 2020, the service released a sources sought notice for a Stinger replacement, postulating a potential contract award for 6,000 missiles in fiscal year 2026, Aviation Week reported. However, there has been little activity since the Army put out that solicitation.
The HASC leaders’ letter comes just days after President Joe Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine. The latest package includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, on top of more than 600 Stingers previously delivered to the Ukrainian military. (In total, the administration has ordered $2 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since January 2021.)
Earlier this month, Congress passed a fiscal 2022 spending bill that contained $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, including additional funds for military aid made via Presidential Drawdown Authority. The expectation is for some of that money to be used to send additional Stinger systems to Ukraine, Smith and Rogers wrote.
EXCLUSIVE: HASC leaders want next-gen Stinger replacement, as stockpile dwindles due to Ukraine – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Valerie Insinna for breakingdefense.com
Leave a Reply