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US companies implement diverse strategies to enhance supply chain

20th May 2024 - 16:16 GMT | by Flavia Camargos Pereira in Kansas City

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Elbit America has been increasing its vendor base to triple production of 155mm systems. (Photo: Elbit America)

The conflicts in Ukraine and Israel have been driving the US defence industry toward increasing production of platforms and systems.

US defence companies have been seeking ways to enhance and enlarge their supply chains to meet the growing international demand for defence solutions. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the US increased its arms exports by 17% between 2019 and 2023, with its share of total global arms exports growing from 34% to 42%.

Driven by the current conflicts in Ukraine and Israel, interest in ammunitions, UAVs, C-UAVs, artillery and C4ISR systems has been pushing US industry towards ramping up production and using diverse strategies to ensure access to several types of components, parts and raw materials.

Speaking to Shephard at SOF Week in Tampa, Florida, Elbit America president and CEO Luke Savoie explained that the “supply chain continues to be a challenge for everyone”.

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AeroVironment to “dramatically” increase production of Switchblades

To meet growing demand, the company has planned to triple production of its 155mm systems and double the building of laser-guided seekers. It has intentions of raising the fabrication of electronics including advanced avionics and helmets.

According to Savoie, the manufacturer has been improving and enhancing its manufacturing capacities by using advanced industrial processes and controls, as well as utilising digital engineering practices. It has also recently opened a 135,000ft² (12,542m²) facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.

To sustain its production ramp-up, Elbit America has been diversifying its provider base and working with both domestic and international companies, Savoie explained.

“I think there were a lot of things in the past where we had the ability and the confidence of that single source, and we really had to broaden our supply chain horizons to be more multi-source”. he remarked. “We will use that as an advantage.”

AeroVironment has been another US-based supplier working towards increasing production. Taylor Nobles, manager of domestic business developments at the US defence contractor, told Shephard that the provider would “dramatically” ramp up manufacturing rates to either double or triple production of its Switchblade 600 and 300 systems.

Currently working with a US vendor base, AeroVironment has been anticipating the purchase of supplies to keep its schedule on track.

US soldiers push a pallet into the cargo area of a C-17 Globemaster III. (Photo: US Air Force)

“There are always supply chain issues,” Nobles stressed. “From a developmental to a fielded solution, whether it is a large order or a small order, we have been working six months or so ahead to be ready for those delivery estimates.”

Ensuring the viability of the supply chain has been also a concern for the US DoD, its branches and its agencies. In January, the Pentagon released its National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS).

Aligned with the 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS), the NDIS was developed to enable the US to have a 21st century defence industrial base with a resilient supply chain.

In this sense, the Department has been awarding contracts to guarantee the long-term provision of critical minerals used in military weapons systems.

Moreover, the Pentagon’s Manufacturing Capability Expansion and Investment Program Directorate has been conducting a five-year investment strategy to build “mine-to-magnet” domestic capacity at all critical nodes of the rare earth supply chain. It will include sourcing, separation, processing, metallisation, alloying and magnet manufacturing.

Flavia Camargos Pereira

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Flavia Camargos Pereira


Flavia Camargos Pereira is a North America editor at Shephard Media. She joined the company …

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