WASHINGTON: The US Army has signed a deal to buy $687 million worth of anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to replenish stocks sent to Ukraine, sources said on Friday.
The shoulder-fired anti-aircraft Stinger missiles made by Raytheon Technologies were in hot demand in Ukraine, where they have successfully stopped Russian assaults from the air, and in neighboring European countries which fear they may also need to beat back Russian forces. The contract for a total of 1,468 Stingers was awarded Wednesday, according to a document reviewed by Reuters. There was no timeline for completion of the work, but it was estimated delivery could take up to 30 months.
The Pentagon and Raytheon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
US troops have limited use for the current supply of Stingers — a lightweight, self-contained weapon that can be deployed quickly to defend against helicopters, airplanes, drones and even cruise missiles — but the United States needs to maintain its supply on hand while it develops the next generation of a “man-portable air defense system.”
On May 6 the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, Bill LaPlante, said that he had aimed to sign a contract by the end of May and that the intent is to replace the Stinger missiles sent to Ukraine one-for-one.
Since February, the US has shipped about 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine. US allies also want to restock the weapons they shipped to Ukraine in recent months.
The Stinger production line was closed in December 2020, the Pentagon has said. In July 2021, Raytheon won a contract to manufacture more Stingers, but mainly for international governments, according to the US Army. Raytheon Chief Executive Greg Hayes told analysts during an April 26 conference call that the US Department of Defense has not purchased a Stinger in 18 years.
“Some of the components are no longer commercially available, and so we’re going to have to go out and redesign some of the electronics in the missile of the seeker head. That’s going to take us a little bit of time.”
The sole Stinger facility, in Arizona, only produces at a low rate.