WASHINGTON — The Army is evaluating which ammunition programs are best suited for multi-year contracts should Congress agree to those agencies to replenish stocks being sent to Ukraine.
Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate would give the Pentagon wartime procurement powers that would allow it to use multi-year contracts to buy vast quantities of high-priority munitions to help Ukraine fight Russia and U.S. replenish inventories.
The proposed law is an amendment to the annual Defense Authorization Act and was offered in place of the critical munitions acquisition fund proposed by the Pentagon and some lawmakers, but was rejected by Senate appropriators.
The ammunition programs most likely to see this approach would be those that the service is already purchasing at scale and with hot production lines, Doug Bush, the Army’s procurement chief, told reporters Monday.
Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or GMLRS, and Patriot missiles are rising to the forefront of weapon systems being mass-produced, he said. Additionally, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, launch vehicles could be a candidate for a multi-year contract, Bush noted.
“That would be unusual for the Army, but in this case it might be a good idea, but we’re still working on it and anything we do would require special congressional approval from both the enablers and the appropriators.” , he said.
Bush said Congress was open to the Pentagon presenting the idea and the data to justify it.
“A big advantage of multi-year contracts is usually that you save a lot of money, stabilize the industrial base and stabilize suppliers,” Bush told reporters in a Nov. 21 briefing. “The downside of multiple years is that you don’t have quite as much flexibility year after year.”
Citing his own experience as a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, Bush said Congress has “supported multi-year approaches as long as the numbers add up.”
“We have to prove this in each individual case where the value of many years of activity can be proven in terms of cost savings and production stability,” he added. “I don’t think we can do that on everything, but there are certainly a few programs, maybe three or four for the Army … where a multi-year approach could have major benefits.”
Last month, the US Army gave Lockheed Martin a $521 million deal to replenish US stockpiles of GMLRS that were shipped to Ukraine to repel the Russian invasion.
Lockheed also won a $14.4 million Army contract on November 17 to increase production capacity to quickly replenish US inventories of HIMARS after systems were shipped to Ukraine.
Lockheed is currently equipped to build 60 HIMARS launchers a year, but the contract, awarded in early October, will allow the company to increase production to 96 launchers a year, a company spokesman told Defense News.
The company has made investments in factory infrastructure and will be able to scale production within the same factory space, the spokesman added.
In September, Ukraine announced its plan to purchase 18 HIMARS in addition to the 20 systems the US has sent to the country.
Lockheed Martin also won a $179 million order earlier this fall to replace HIMARS, which is being sent to Ukraine, along with an order from GMLRS.
Bush told Defense News last month that the army is using multiple methods to expedite contracts that will replenish supplies to Ukraine. As of October, the US military has earned about $3.4 billion from Ukraine-related arms and equipment contracts.
Joe Gould and Bryant Harris contributed to this report.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in Journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.