WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has received more than 300 responses to its call for weapons and commercial systems to rapidly equip Ukraine’s military.
The Department of Defense issued a request for information April 22 seeking input from companies on a number of needed capabilities, including air defense, anti-armor, unmanned aerial systems and communications equipment. Pentagon acquisition chief Bill LaPlante, in his first public appearance since taking the role, said Friday the influx of proposals will help mitigate supply chain issues, speed up production lines and address strategic objectives in the region.
Friday is the cutoff for companies to make proposals, and LaPlante said the Pentagon is reviewing hundreds of submissions, which fall into different categories based on urgency and the time it will take to field. Those delivery timelines range from as few as 30 days to more than six months.
The RFI also asked companies to provide a maximum monthly production rate and indicate what other systems would be affected by a production increase.
Asked Friday when the department may start awarding contracts, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby would not provide further detail.
Meanwhile, LaPlante said DoD has obligated $181.8 million of its $300 million Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding. That includes a $17.8 million contract to AeroVironment for its Switchblade unmanned aircraft system, which the department plans to award Friday.
On top of a $45 million Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative obligation to coordinate weapon system transport, the department has also awarded: $61.4 million for communications equipment; $22.6 million for the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System; $19.7 million for the Puma UAS; $7.2 million for M1151 Humvee refurbishment; $4.9 million for combat medical equipment and supplies; $2 million for binoculars; and $1.2 million for MREs.
LaPlante said the department has plans for the remaining $118.2 million in funding, but did not offer details.
As the Pentagon works to supply Ukraine with needed weapon systems, it’s also focused on replenishing U.S. equipment stockpiles. Congress approved the $13.6 billion Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act in March, which included $3.5 billion to refresh DoD’s weapons supply.
LaPlante confirmed the department transferred the first batch of funding, about $1.45 billion, earlier this week to the Army and Marine Corps for Stingers, Javelins and other weapons. Inside Defense first reported the transfer.
The Army is “actively negotiating” contracts for the Raytheon-made Stinger missiles and expects to make an award this month. The Javelin missile contract, LaPlante said, is “imminent,” adding that while the Pentagon had previously been buying the F-model of the Lockheed Martin-made Javelin, its stockpiles will be replenished with the newer G-model.
LaPlante said the Pentagon’s decision process for using its own stockpiles to support Ukrainian forces is “really a trade-off between readiness and modernization.”
“Those calculations are going on right now where the warfighters are looking and saying, ‘How much risk am I willing to take on my readiness?’” LaPlante said. “At the same time, we’re trying to protect our modernization. Here, the constraint is really time and the variable that is hard to figure out is time. But I will say, there are a lot of lessons being learned right now.”
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. She has covered the U.S. military since 2012, with a focus on the Air Force and Space Force. She has reported on some of the Defense Department’s most significant acquisition, budget and policy challenges.