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GOP lawmakers target Pentagon’s plan to ramp up missile production for Ukraine

Ukrainian gunners prepare to fire with a BM-27 Uragan, a self-propelled multiple rocket launcher, at a position near a frontline in Donetsk region on August 27, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

A US House panel has decided to make significant cuts to an ambitious Pentagon proposal to ramp up missile production for Ukraine, dealing a major blow to President Joe Biden’s military spending goal laid out in his most recent budget plan.

According to a report on Sunday, Republican members of the House Committee on Appropriations reduced more than $2.5 billion of the Pentagon spending bill that deals with missile procurement across the military services.

“The Committee is particularly concerned the Department [of Defense] cannot provide realistic cost estimates and has proceeded with these multiyear procurement requests without a firm understanding of each program’s unit cost and production capacity,” Republican lawmakers wrote in the report.

The GOP lawmakers went on to say that they agree with the need for “steady demand” so the defense industrial base can ramp up production, but they countered that the Pentagon “failed to show” how multiyear contracts would meet legal standards.

Members of the committee further explained that several missile programs “are worthy of multiyear procurement consideration due to their enduring importance and steady production” as justification for permitting bulk buys of these munitions.

The committee specifically denied multiyear procurement authority for Raytheon Technologies-manufactured Standard Missile-6 and the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles because lawmakers do not believe the Pentagon has a clear understanding of unit costs and production capacity.

As part of the $2.5 billion missile cut, the spending panel cut much of a Pentagon push for $1.9 billion to support bulk purchases. It redirected money to boost military training, maintenance and operations as well as Pentagon research and development efforts to field new technology and weapons.

The shift in funding may set up a potential fight with other panels in the House of Representatives and Senate that side with the Pentagon’s plans. Democrats are also expected to oppose the legislation over spending differences with Republicans.

The report, which will be made public next week, outlines the funding changes members of the committee made to Biden’s defense budget. It also explains the committee’s priorities in shaping the bill and items of interest or concern for lawmakers.

The latest development comes as the United States has announced another military aid package for Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced a new $325 million arms package for Ukraine, saying it will include munitions for air defense systems, ammunition and vehicles.

This comes days after the Pentagon announced that it will provide an additional $2.1 billion in weapons aid for Ukraine.

Washington has provided about $38 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia launched its special military operation in late February 2022.

Russian officials have repeatedly announced that flooding Ukraine with weapons will only increase the destruction.

Republican lawmakers have voiced concerns about the haphazard military shipments to Ukraine.

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