Stockpiling missiles; Interceptor project axed; F-35’s new EW gear; and more...

“A couple of years.” That’s how long Defense Secretary Mark Esper says it will be until the U.S. military has a hypersonic weapon.

The new SecDef’s comments to Fox News interview come as the Pentagon is building its stocks of existing weapons. 

This week, Cowen’s Roman Schweizer put a dollar value on some of that stockpiling. “DoD added $20B Y/Y for high-end weapons: $12.7B for Lockheed, $6.2B for Raytheon and $1.2B for Boeing,” he wrote in an Aug. 21 note to investors. The Pentagon’s annual missile spending has increased from about $11 billion annually to about $13.5 billion per year through the mid-2020s, he wrote.

That dollar figure is just for existing weapons, including the JASSM and LRASM cruise missiles, the PAC-3 and SM-6 interceptors; Sidewinder air-to-air missile, and JDAM satellite-guided bomb.

“The Pentagon has boosted spending to significantly increase the quantity of purchases of high-end weapons that would be used in a war against a peer competitor,” Schweizer wrote. “And we do not believe those numbers include hypersonic weapons or post-Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty cruise & ballistic missiles.”

Speaking of that, the Pentagon announced earlier this week that it fired a ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missile that would have violated the INF Treaty had the U.S. not withdrawn earlier this month.

So what does the future look like? “[W]e expect DoD will field long-range conventional cruise and ballistic missiles over the next several years, and there are a number of candidate systems (both hypersonic and slower),” Schweizer wrote.

During last month’s quarterly earnings calls, executives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman all boasted about their work on hypersonic weapons and the potential market. But it’s still not clear just how soon the fast-flying weapons could be operational.

“We recognize the interest in hypersonic offensive weapons and defenses against them,” Capital Alpha’s Byron Callan wrote in an Aug. 14 note to investors. “However, this is a decade-long theme that will take time to mature.”


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