The company producing the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that have proved so effective in Ukraine said on Tuesday it will not be able to immediately resume production once existing stockpiles are depleted.
The news will be a blow to Ukraine‘s armed forces, which say they need hundreds every day to repel Russian invasion.
But Raytheon Technologies, which makes the shoulder-fired weapons, wound down production in recent years – as the Pentagon looked to more modern systems – and faces hurdles in ramping it back up.
On a conference call with analysts, chief executive Greg Hayes said: ‘We have a very limited stock of material for Stinger production.’
The company may not be able to ramp up production until next year, following a surge in demand.
‘We’ve been working with the Department of Defense for the last couple of weeks,’ he said.
‘Some of the components are no longer commercially available, and so we’re going to have to go out and redesign some of the electronics in the missile of the seeker head. That’s going to take us a little bit of time.’
The U.S. has shipped more than 1,400 Stingers to Ukraine.
The FIM-92 Stinger Man Portable Air Defense System entered service in 1981 and is used by the United States and 29 other countries.