"War is a racket" - Smedley Butler, the most decorated US Marine Corps General
The US arms industry is striving to keep up with demands for weapons and ammunition for use in the Middle East conflicts, amid speculations of lingering wars in the region and beyond. According to senior US officials and industry executives, arms makers have increased shifts and hired extra workers.
"It's a huge growth area for us," one executive with a US arms maker told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "Everyone in the region is talking about building up supplies for five to ten years. This is going to be a long fight" against Daesh (ISIL).
Major defense contractors Raytheon, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin assured investors at a Credit Suisse conference in West Palm Beach this week that they stand to gain from the escalating conflicts in the Middle East. Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner told the conference his company will see “indirect benefits” from the war in Syria, citing the Turkish military’s recent decision to shoot down a Russian warplane. The incident, Tanner said, heightens the risk for U.S. military operations in the region, providing “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that environment and our products in theater.” He also stressed that the Russian intervention would highlight the need for Lockheed Martin-made F-22s and the new F-35 jets. And for “expendable” products, such as a rockets, Tanner added that there is increased demand, including from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia because of the war in Yemen.
Lockheed Martin Corp. has added a third shift at its plant, which employed 325 workers as of February, and is now at "maximum capacity," according to one executive familiar with the issue. The aerospace giant announced in February that it would add 240 workers by 2020 and expand the facility, which also produces a 2,000-pound air-to-surface stealthy missile. It builds its 100-pound Hellfire air-to-ground missiles at a 3,863-acre highly secured facility surrounded by woods and horse pastures.
Reuters also quoted Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief arms buyer as saying that they are working with Lockheed, Raytheon Co and Boeing Co. to ramp up production of precision munitions and potentially add new capacity.
"We are watching that closely. We are looking at the need to increase capacity," Kendall said. He, however, noted that US manufacturers had been "very responsive," but some facilities were already reaching maximum capacity and it would take years for firms to make necessary expansions.
Other US weapons manufacturers are also set to benefit from the war on ISIL.
Raytheon Chief Executive Tom Kennedy made similar remarks, telling the conference that he is seeing “a significant uptick” for “defense solutions across the board in multiple countries in the Middle East.” Noting that he had met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Kennedy said, “It’s all the turmoil they have going on, whether the turmoil’s occurring in Yemen, whether it’s with the Houthis, whether it’s occurring in Syria or Iraq, with ISIS.”
Wilson Jones, the president of the defense manufacturer Oshkosh, told the conference that “with the ISIS threat growing,” there are more countries interested in buying Oshkosh-made M-ATV armored vehicles. Speaking about a recent business trip to the Middle East, Jones said countries there “want to mechanize their infantry corps.”
The latest budget deal in Congress authorizes $607 billion in defense spending, just $5 billion down from the Pentagon’s request, which DefenseNews called a “treat” for the industry. “Our programs are well supported [in the budget],” said Lockheed’s Tanner at the conference. “We think we did fare very well.”
"We're in the business of killing terrorists and business is good," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in statement and added, "There's more to come, too."
From Press TV and also here