When President Biden started giving arms and money to Ukraine, he claimed that not only was he supporting a country in need, but he was also ensuring more jobs were created. Those jobs weren’t here in America, though. According to a new Wall Street Journal report, with Biden sending so many “surplus” M777 howitzers to the country, now British defense company BAE Systems is seeing a huge surge in requests.
On January 4th, the company announced that to meet the demand, the company would be firing back up the machines to produce the main structure of the weapons. This means a whole new set of people going back to work and a huge creation of jobs. Ordered for the US Army, the preliminary contract is reportedly worth $50 million, and talks to manufacture the whole weapon system are ongoing. While not being sent right to Ukraine, they are intended to replace the systems and parts already sent to Ukraine, and deliveries will begin in 2025.
According to BAE, more than eight other countries have requested to purchase the M777, but as it stands, the US is responsible for approving any and all foreign military sales of the system. While other systems offer the ability to move themselves, the M7777 needs to be transported by rail or towed across the battlefield. While this makes targeted attacks on the system easier, Ukraine has found mitigations for this problem, as well as the lighter weight but less durable titanium construction.
Both American and Ukrainian artillerymen agree that the M777 is a favored platform, easy to transport, fire, maintain, and repair in a rush. Other Western versions have made their way to Ukraine but have not proven to be as requested or used. Mark Cancian, an adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and former U.S. Marine Corps artillery officer explained to the WSJ about the resurgence of the line. “Weapons that get visibility and credibility during a conflict often generate foreign sales.”
With 198 of the systems sent to Ukraine, over 2 million 155 rounds, and an untold number of parts sent as of December 27th, Ukraine has been incredibly well armed for fighting back the Russians. Much the same, the system has been heavily targeted; 77 of them have been disabled or destroyed by the Russians, according to Oryx, the open-source analysts who have documented the visuals of the war.
BAE Systems weapons chief John Borton provided the WSJ with a statement about the prospect of these new sales. “This restart of production of the major structures for the U.S. Army’s M777s comes at a critical time, with howitzers deployed on operations in Ukraine. The U.S., as well as Canada and Australia, has donated M777s to Ukraine. We understand that they are performing well, and we are very proud of our role in supporting our allies.”
Companies like BAE are adapting to fulfilling massive orders in a short timeline, but a supply chain issue for titanium has forced them to source new suppliers. Added to the need to hire and train a new force to manufacture parts and assemble them it becomes incredibly difficult to meet the demands, but well worth it.
To many opponents of the same, they see a need for the US to not only develop a system built here in the US, but many also see this as a form of money laundering. With the US providing Ukraine with so much, many allegations of corruption, stock fixing, and embezzlement have surfaced. As many of these allegations are well-founded, many are increasingly against the continued US presence in the country.