US State Dept. approves potential $495Mln sale of HIMARS to Lithuania
According to the US, such a step improves the military capability of a NATO Ally that is an important force "for ensuring political stability and economic progress within Eastern Europe."
The US State Department has agreed on a potential sale of High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Launchers and related equipment worth around $495 million to the Lithuanian government, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States by helping to improve the military capability of a NATO Ally that is an important force for ensuring political stability and economic progress within Eastern Europe,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a press release, noting that Lithuania has requested to buy eight M142 HIMARS Launchers and other military hardware.
The sale will assist the Lithuanian government in updating its military capability while advancing interoperability with the United States and other allies, according to the release. The main contractor will be Lockheed Martin in Texas.
It is worth mentioning that in a statement to CNBC in September, Dave Des Roches, an associate professor and senior military fellow at the US National Defense University, expressed "great concern" regarding US arms supplies to Ukraine, stating that, "Unless we have new production, which takes months to ramp up, we’re not going to have the ability to supply the Ukrainians."
Des Roches told the media outlet that during peacetime, the US weapons industry is only able to produce 30,000 rounds for the 155 mm Howitzer artillery weapons, while Ukrainian forces are burning through this quantity in around 2 weeks.
However, the US is not the only country facing this problem. Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, stated earlier, "The military stocks of most [European NATO] member states have been, I wouldn’t say exhausted, but depleted in a high proportion, because we have been providing a lot of capacity to the Ukrainians," which was acknowledged by Chief of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, that stated during the recent UNGA that alliance members must increase investment in their arms industry.
Stoltenberg, who held an exceptional meeting with the arms directors of the alliance to discuss means of restocking weapons of members, said in a statement to the New York Times that NATO members are now "working with industry to increase production of weapons and ammunition," calling for countries of the alliance to increase weapons orders in order to encourage manufacturers to boost capacity in the long term.
According to the WSJ, citing defense sources, the US has armed Ukraine with 16 HIMARS rocket launchers, hundreds of drones, missiles, and other weapons during the previous six months, a large portion of which, including the ammunition, has come directly from US inventories, depleting supplies intended for unforeseen threats.