Three F-16s take part in a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019.

Three F-16s take part in a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. U.S. Air Force / Ronald Bradshaw

Defense Business Brief: Ukraine wants F-16s, Senator holds up aid package; Lockheed CEO sees increased demand for missile defenses; and more.

As the war in Ukraine nears its third month, a $40 billion U.S. funding package that overwhelmingly passed in the House is being held up in the Senate.

Sen. Rand Paul derailed bipartisan efforts to quickly pass the supplemental funding bill Thursday by calling for the establishment of an inspector general to conduct oversight of the weapons sent to Ukraine. Democratic and Republican leaders agreed to allow a vote on Paul’s proposal as an amendment, but the Kentucky Republican demanded it be added to the bill language, which has already passed the House. 

Ukrainian officials on Friday criticized Paul’s efforts. A delegation of Ukrainian parliamentarians and non-governmental activists said the war in Ukraine is drastically different from Afghanistan, which did have a special inspector general, because the U.S. has sent less money, no American troops, and less advanced weaponry to the fight with Russia. Also, the war, which has blocked ports and destroyed Ukraine’s infrastructure, makes it difficult if not impossible to sell or export arms abroad, said Oleksandra Ustinova, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

“How can you steal a howitzer? Where are you going to sell the part of it? It just doesn't make sense,” she told a small group of reporters in Washington. “This is one of the Russian narratives I’ve been hearing here.” 

The U.S. has sought to arm Ukraine with easy-to-use weapons, most notably Javelin anti-tank and Stinger anti-air missiles. It also coordinated Eastern European allies handing over decades-old Soviet-made weapons that the Ukrianians already have the know-how to use. The U.S. has pledged to backfill allies’ weapon stockpiles with western weapons.

But Ukraine says it needs NATO weapons to win the war. Specifically, Ustinova asked for better air-defense systems to protect civilians from the skies and F-16 jets, as well as training for Ukrainian pilots to fly the more advanced American platforms. 

But how will they maintain those more advanced systems while Ukrainian engineers are getting trained? “We have now the foreign legion where Americans voluntarily fight. If we can hire former military from the U.S. or from other countries who know how to maintain F-16s, I bet there will be people who will want to come. If we already have foreign guys who are fighting, we can have foreign engineers who would come and maintain,” said Daria Kaleniuk, the co-founder and executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center.

In addition to arming Ukraine, there’s increasing talk of late about replacing U.S. and allies weapon stockpiles. Bill LaPlante, the Pentagon’s newly installed top weapons buyer, made his first trip to the Pentagon where he said the goal is to replace the systems given to Ukraine on a one-for-one basis. But since many of the weapons—like the Stinger and M777 howitzer—are no longer made, they will likely be replaced with something newer.

“The focus has been on ramping production of Javelin (Lockheed Martin/Raytheon) and restarting production of Stinger (Raytheon/Lockheed Martin/Aerojet Rocketdyne),” Cowen & Company analyst Roman Schweizer wrote in a May 11 note to investors.

Lockheed Martin CEO Jim Taiclet, speaking last Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation, said his company is “planning for the long run and not just in the Javelin, because this situation, the Ukraine conflict, has highlighted a couple of really important things for us.”

Taiclet said the U.S. needs “to have superior systems in large enough numbers” and that “control of the airspace is really critical.” He expects more demand for weapons, including F-16 and F-35 fighters, and Patriot and THAAD missile defenses.

Making Moves

Draper Laboratory, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based research-and-development nonprofit, named Jerry Wohletz, a former BAE Systems executive, its president and CEO. Wohletz replaces Bill LaPlante, who is now the defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment.

Former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo joined NanoLock Security’s advisory board. NanoLock Security is a “a leading zero trust device-level cybersecurity provider.”

From Defense One

Training, Logistics Snafus Show How US Advisors Could Help Ukraine, Volunteers Say // Patrick Tucker

Time, effort, and materiel are being wasted for lack of a little expertise, say two U.S. volunteers recently returned from the war-torn country.

Raytheon Technologies Invests in Hypersonic Aircraft Startup Hermeus // Marcus Weisgerber

It's the first investment by the aerospace and defense giant's new venture arm.

Lockheed Secretly Worked to Block Airbus' Influence in Washington—While Teaming on Major Pentagon Bid // Marcus Weisgerber

Internal email reveals U.S. company's pressure to deny Europeans' application to powerful trade group.

Pentagon Seeks to Update U.S. Weapons Stocks Depleted by Ukraine Donations // Marcus Weisgerber and Tara Copp

Defense Department's top acquisitions exec says Ukraine war is changing the way the U.S. thinks about stockpiles.

Russia has Fired Between '10 and 12' Hypersonics into Ukraine, Pentagon Says // Tara Copp

The invading force have "blown through" its stockpile of precision guided munitions.

Navy Leaders Defend Plan To Cut the Fleet Amid GOP Criticism // Jacqueline Feldscher

"We think at this point we're throwing good money after bad," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday told the House Armed Services Committee.

We Need More Amphibs, and We Need to Buy Them Smarter // David Forster

Buying amphibious warships one at a time has left us with too few, and little prospect of closing the gap.

Marine Corps Wants Loitering Munitions for its Infantry Units // Caitlin M. Kenney

Commandant highlighted the weapons' unpredictability and psychological effects on the enemy at Marine expo.