A Pentagon official said Friday that the US is accelerating the production of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to send more to Ukraine.
William LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, made the comments after visiting Lockheed Martin facilities in Camden, Arkansas, that produces HIMARS and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS).
“As we continue providing security assistance to Ukraine, we are working with industry to accelerate production of critical weapons and systems,” LaPlante said, according to Newsweek. “This includes providing funding to buy more equipment, expand production lines, and support additional hiring and workforce development.”
The HIMARS is a portable rocket launch system, and the munitions the US is providing give the weapon a range of about 50 miles. So far, the US has sent 16 HIMARS to Ukraine. Russia has said it destroyed six HIMARS, but Ukraine has denied that any have been destroyed.
The US policy of sending billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine has been a boon for Lockheed Martin and other US arms makers. In April, President Biden showed his support for the company when he visited a Lockheed Martin facility that produces Javelin anti-tank missiles, which the US has been pouring into Ukraine.
The Javelin is a joint project between Lockheed and Raytheon, another company that has been cashing in on the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy. Before taking his post at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin served on the board of Raytheon.
The Biden administration announced last week its single largest weapons package for Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, worth about $2.98 billion. The funds are being pulled from the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill that Biden signed into law in May.