Dwindling supply of US Stinger missiles creates problems for Ukraine soldiers

Edited By: Manas Joshi
Kyiv Updated: Apr 26, 2022, 06:04 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

While US troops themselves have limited use for the current supply of Stingers - a lightweight, self-contained weapon that can be deployed quickly to defend against helicopters, airplanes, drones and even cruise missiles - the US needs to maintain its supply on hand while it develops the next generation of a "man-portable air defense system."

USA's stinger missiles, which cn be fired by a single soldier have been in demand in Ukraine as they have successfully stopped Russian air assaults. But US supplies have dwindled and there are hurdles in the way of producing anti-aircraft weapons.

Challenges include complications related to ramping up production, reluctance by the U.S. to redirect valuable manufacturing capacity to decades-old technology, and fears among defense firms that they would be stuck with unwanted arms when the Ukraine war winds down, according to Reuters interviews with US officials and defense firms.

While US troops themselves have limited use for the current supply of Stingers - a lightweight, self-contained weapon that can be deployed quickly to defend against helicopters, airplanes, drones and even cruise missiles - the US needs to maintain its supply on hand while it develops the next generation of a "man-portable air defense system."

"Right before Ukraine hit, we were going to divest ourselves of Stingers," a congressional source said. The source was quoted by Reuters. Still, Pentagon officials are concerned about a "dwindling" surplus, according to a Pentagon official and the congressional source.

Also Read | Danger of World War III is 'real', warns Russian foreign minister Lavrov

In the ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukrainian soldiers have shot at least 6 targets. These targets were struck by Ukraine soldiers with the help of Lithuanian-provided Stinger missiles.

Since February, the U.S. has shipped 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine, according to an administration official. But sourcing more will be difficult.

The Stinger production line was closed in December 2020, said Pentagon spokesperson Jessica Maxwell. Since then, Raytheon Technologies won a contract in July 2021 to manufacture more Stingers, but mainly for international governments, according to the U.S. Army. The sole Stinger facility, in Arizona, only produces at a low rate.

WATCH WION LIVE HERE

The Pentagon has not ordered new Stingers for many years, but has ordered parts or made other efforts to increase its supply. For example, the Army is in the midst of a "service life extension plan" for some of its Stingers that were to become obsolete in 2023 and is extending what the military calls their "useful life" until 2030.

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App