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US Army eyes six-fold production boost of 155mm shells used in Ukraine


Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire towards Russian positions with a 155mm M777 Howitzer artillery weapon on the front line somewhere near the city of Bakhmut on March 11, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images)

Huntsville, Ala. — The U.S. Army will boost production of 155mm artillery shells more than six-fold to 85,000 a month by fiscal 2028, according to Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo.

The goal is to replenish ammunition going to Ukraine in large numbers to aid its fight against the Russia and to ensure the service has the right levels in its own stockpiles, he said March 28.

The Army is spending $1.45 billion on capacity “to expand 155mm artillery production from 14,000 a month to over 24,000 later this year,” and 85,000 in five years, Camarillo said at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

Partly to aid in the ramp up, the Army has beefed up its Organic Industrial Base, or OIB, strategy with plans to invest $18 billion over 15 years. Originally, the service wanted $16 billion to modernize the base, according to Marion Whicker of U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Now, just in FY23 alone, $2.5 billion will be injected into modernizing the OIB, mostly through supplemental funding provided by Congress to replenish stockpiles, she noted.

To dramatically increase capacity that quickly, “you need additional production lines,” Army acquisition chief Doug Bush told reporters at the Global Force event.

The Army makes artillery shells at Scranton Army Ammunition Plant in Pennsylvania as well as General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems facility nearby in Wilkes Barre. It fills them at a government facility in Iowa. The Army is under contract to build another facility with a company in Canada and is standing up yet another with GD-OTS in Garland, Texas, to make additional shell bodies. Iowa is expanding its capability, and there is some production expansion into Kansas, Bush noted.

“It’s not all in one place,” he said. “It’s literally building new factories and putting advanced machine tools in them. That’s really the only way to do it.”

The Army is investing $349 million to more than double the service’s monthly production of launchers to 41 a month and 330 missiles per month, Camarillo said. Production for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, or GMLRS, will increase from 566 rockets per month to over 1,100 by FY26.

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 degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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