(Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect additional information provided by a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman.)
Executives at Lockheed Martin, the builder of the High Mobility Advanced Rocket Systems that have been a key component of U.S. military aid packages to Ukraine, say they're working to ramp up production of the rocket launchers to 96 per year.
Lockheed President and CEO James Taiclet said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call today that leaders have met with their long-lead supply chain to plan for the boost.
“We advanced-funded ahead of contract, $65 million to shorten the manufacturing lead time,” he said. “That was without a contract or any other even memo or whatnot back from the government; we just went ahead and did that because we expected it to happen. So those parts are already being manufactured now.”
The effort comes after the Army recently posted a sources-sought notice surrounding the potential of driving HIMARS production quantities up to 96 per fiscal year beginning in FY-24. In order for Lockheed to meet that timeline, executives would have to boost capacity over the next 18 to 24 months.
The Army systems have been regularly included in U.S. transfers to Ukraine to combat Russian forces, with a Defense Department fact sheet from Oct. 14 stating that to date, officials have delivered 38 HIMARS and ammunition to Ukraine.
As of mid-October, the U.S. has committed $17.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.
Lockheed began 2022 producing HIMARS at a rate of 48 per year, a company spokeswoman told Inside Defense. Following the invasion, Taiclet said Lockheed had approached DOD senior officials and warned them of the company’s plans to “start spending on capacity” for HIMARS and other systems. Around then, HIMARS production expanded to 60 annually, the spokeswoman said.
To respond to growing and shifting demand now, executives are currently in the process of cross-training the workforce across product lines, allowing people to “move between them,” Taiclet said. Further, Lockheed is working to modernize an existing facility in Camden, AR, to support bolstered demand, he added.