Ukraine ramps up domestic arms production

After more than two years of full-scale war, Ukraine faces a critical shortage of all armaments, from bullets to long-range missile systems, fighters, and bombers.

Last month, Oleksandr Kamyshev, Minister of Strategic Industries, announced Ukraine has initiated the production of missiles with a range of over 600 kilometers. Kamyshev did not provide further details.

Officials also say that anti-aircraft defense systems and precision-guided missiles, similar to the American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), are under development.

President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, said on January 6 that Ukraine is "maximizing" efforts to ensure that its Armed Forces can rely on domestically produced weapons and military equipment this year.

NATO-standard shells are needed for artillery systems supplied to Ukraine by Western allies. The country strives to meet the urgent need for such ammunition, including through domestic production, but faces a number of problems, reports The Washington Post. These include a lack of proper funding and a shortage of gunpowder.

Officials say Ukraine plans to spend about five billion dollars on domestic arms production this year, which is insufficient. Another issue is the global shortage of explosive chemicals, which has led to periodic halts in Ukrainian weapons production, said Maksym Polyviannyi, Deputy CEO of the Ukrainian defense holding Ukroboronprom.

Another challenge for Ukraine’s manufacturing capabilities is Russian attacks targeting, among other objectives, weapons factories. While many missiles are intercepted by air defense forces, some still reach their targets.

Ukraine has tripled its arms production capacity in 2023 and hopes to increase it sixfold in 2024. Factories are producing Soviet-style mortars and artillery shells of 122 mm and 152 mm, military equipment, missiles, and more. However, cutting-edge systems are far from production, which, according to Polyviannyi, could take decades to launch.

In December 2023, Kamyshev reported that Ukraine increased its mortar system production by 42 times and scaled up the production of the Bogdana self-propelled howitzer to the level of global defense giants. Ukraine also began manufacturing cartridges for firearms, and shells of 73 mm and 125 mm calibers.

Throughout 2023, Ukraine successfully tripled the production capabilities of its defense-industrial complex, generating a total of $3 billion in weapons and military equipment, according to a Forbes report citing a high-ranking official from the Ministry of Defense.

Moreover, the product range expanded: production began of NATO-standard shells, ammunition for small arms, grenade launcher rounds (VOG-17, VOG-25), and ammunition for unmanned aerial vehicles.

Additionally, the production of anti-tank missile systems (ATGMs) has doubled. There is also progress concerning armored personnel carriers; their production rate in November 2023 was five times higher than in the spring. The production of armored vehicles increased by a factor of 3.4 compared to the previous year.

Currently, the defense-industrial complex includes over 500 enterprises employing 300,000 workers and has become one of the drivers of the national economy: from last year's GDP growth of 4.9%, the defense sector contributed nearly a third, or 1.5 percentage points.

  War in Ukraine, Ukroboronprom