“The defence industry is so consolidated that it can’t very quickly expand to support a greater demand,” warns Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defence programme at the Center for a New American Security, a think-tank. “So we’re slow and behind and don’t have enough of anything” in munitions.
The Pentagon tends to prioritise big, expensive items such as ships, aircraft and vehicles, “leaving missiles and munitions with inadequate funding”, according to a recent CNAS report.
Michael O’Hanlon, director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institution think-tank, says Washington is facing the “conundrum” of how to be “best prepared for a war that comes out of nowhere, that you need to fight — and fight well — on day one”.
The CNAS report says existing inventory is “too small to blunt an initial invasion, let alone prevail in a protracted conflict against China”, adding: “To deter and — if deterrence fails — defeat China, the [Pentagon] needs large stockpiles of stand-off missiles, maritime strike weapons, and layered air and missile defences.” Buying more long- and medium-range missiles is essential.
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