January 15, 2024

Institute for the Study of War: Ukraine is dramatically expanding its defense production capacity

Institute for the Study of War

Ukraine is dramatically expanding its defense industrial capacity to develop the ability over time to satisfy its military requirements with significantly reduced foreign military assistance. Ukraine is pursuing three primary lines of effort to achieve this goal: increasing its domestic defense industrial base (DIB), building bilateral and multilateral partnerships with European states, and pursuing industrial joint ventures with the United States and other international enterprises to co-produce defense materials in Ukraine and elsewhere. Ukraine will require considerable Western military assistance for several years, and its ability to reduce its dependence on such assistance depends in part on whether it can liberate strategically vital areas currently occupied by Russian forces, among other factors. But Ukraine and its Western partners are executing a realistic plan to create a sustainable basis for Ukraine to be able to defend itself over the long term with dramatically reduced foreign military assistance.

Ukraine’s prospects for sustaining its military forces with limited assistance over the long term are excellent. Ukraine is heavily industrialized with a highly educated and technically sophisticated population. It had a massive arms industry during the Soviet period and continued to be a significant arms exporter after independence. The Russian occupation of key industrial areas and destruction of important centers of weapons production, especially the Kharkiv tank factory, has degraded but not eliminated the solid base on which Ukraine can build a viable DIB to support its military forces in the future.

Ukrainian Domestic Arms Production

Ukraine has been expanding its DIB domestically and abroad since the start of the Russian full-scale invasion. Ukraine’s domestic arms industry at the start of 2024 produces a higher volume of weapons than it did before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, despite Russian efforts to cripple Ukraine’s DIB.[1] Kyiv intensified its efforts to expand its DIB in 2023. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated in June 2023 that Ukraine could become the “center of modern weapons production in Europe” through cooperation with international industry to localize arms production in Ukraine.[2] Shmyhal stated in October 2023 that Ukraine understands that it must produce weapons in Ukraine to offset global ammunition and gunpowder shortages affecting all states’ weapons procurement.[3] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in December 2023 that Ukraine’s task is to make itself “so strong and effective” that it can resist Russian aggression – a goal that Zelensky said Ukraine can only accomplish through the “sufficient production of domestic weapons.”[4] Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov Stated in December 2023 that Ukraine has developed a strategy for domestic defense production and has launched programs to reduce the risk of shortages of ammunition, missiles, and other military equipment.[5] Umerov identified the goal of increasing Ukraine’s domestic production of weapons and military equipment as a priority for 2024.[6] This effort is advancing a short-term objective of immediately supplying Ukrainian troops on the battlefield and a long-term objective of ensuring that Ukraine can be more self-sufficient and less reliant on external security assistance in the future.

Ukraine has been expanding its DIB capabilities domestically and abroad since the start of the Russian full-scale invasion to offset ammunition and weapon shortages, repair military equipment, and develop new weapons. Ukraine’s domestic arms industry in 2024 now produces a higher volume of weapons than it did before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, despite Russian efforts to cripple Ukraine’s DIB.[7] Zelensky stated on December 27, 2023, that Ukraine produced three times as much equipment and weapons in 2023 as it did in 2022.[8] Ukroboronprom (Ukrainian Defense Industry) – the Ukrainian state-owned joint-stock company that holds Ukraine’s defense industry companies – increased its production by 62 percent in 2023 compared with 2022.[9]

Ukraine’s DIB is currently producing the following weapons and munitions (this list is partial):

Artillery and heavy munitionsUkrainian Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshin stated on December 27 that Ukraine increased the production of mortar rounds by a factor of 42 and the production of artillery shells by a factor of 2.5 in 2023.[10]

Ukraine resumed production of its home-grown Vilkha Multiple-Launch Rocket System (MLRS) missiles in 2022 or 2023. Vilkha-M rockets have a longer range (130 km) and heavier payload than the GMLRS rockets fired by US-supplied M142 HIMARS, which have a range of 77 km.[11] Ukrainian Forbes reported on March 10, 2023, that Ukrainian forces used Vilkha-M rockets to strike rear areas in occupied Ukraine, indicating that Ukrainian industry has resumed production of the missiles that had stopped after 2021.[12] Ukrainian Forbes noted that Ukraine is planning to produce a Vilhka rocket version with an increased range of up to 150 km.[13]

Ukraine began domestically producing 155mm shells in small volumes in Ukraine no later than September 2023.[14] These shells are a NATO-standard munition type used by Western-supplied 155 mm guns that Ukraine’s BID had never produced before (the equivalent Soviet round is 152 mm).[15] Ukraine’s domestic production of 155mm artillery will likely expand over the next three years. Ukrainian officials confirmed in December 2023 that Ukraine signed agreements with two unnamed US companies for the joint production of 155mm ammunition in Ukraine and that the implementation of these deals will take two-to-three years.[16] Ukraine now produces its own 155mm self-propelled howitzer as well, the 2S22 Bohdana.[17] The 2S22 Bohdana started development in 2018, entered full production in January 2023, and began confirmed field deployments no later than May 2023.[18] Ukraine produced six Bohdana howitzers per month as of December 2023.[19]

Ukrainian arms manufacturers established new serial production lines for Soviet-era 82mm and 120mm mortars, 122mm artillery shells, and 125mm tank ammunition for T-64, T-72, and T-80 tanks outside of Ukraine with NATO allies in 2022-2023.[20] European states with Soviet-style ammunition stores had largely run out of 122mm and 152mm shells before January 2023.[21] Ukrainian-made 152mm shells were first visually confirmed to have been used on the frontline in January 2023.[22] Ukraine’s domestic production of Stuhna-P and RK-3 Corsar anti-tank missiles has also increased by unspecified amounts following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[23]

Armored vehiclesUkraine’s defense manufacturing vehicle output is increasing. Ukrainian officials reported in December 2023 that Ukraine’s production of armored personal carriers (APC) increased 3.4 times between 2022 and 2023 and that Ukraine’s APC production increased five times between spring 2023 and December 2023.[24] International aid has helped Ukraine resume the production of tank undercarriages, even though Ukraine can no longer produce complete tanks.[25] Ukraine repairs damaged tanks in Ukraine, however.[26] Ukrainian workers reportedly repaired over 3,000 armored vehicles in rear areas near the front in 2022.[27]

Drones. Ukraine’s drone production has increased more than one-hundredfold between the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion and November 2023.[28] Only 35 Ukrainian companies manufactured drones in 2022.[29] Ukraine had over 200 companies (most of which are privately owned) producing various drones for the Ukrainian military as of October 2023.[30] Over 50 Ukrainian state and private companies currently manufacture drone munitions weighting between 300g and 10kg.[31] Ukraine manufactured 50,000 FPV drones in December 2023, and Ukrainian officials project that Ukraine‘s drone industry will manufacture one million FPV drones in 2024 (or about 83,000 FPV drones per month).[32]

Ukraine is developing indigenous long-range strike capabilities. Ukrainian officials announced that Ukraine tested a kamikaze strike drone with a range of 1,000 km in January 2023.[33] A Ukrainian official reported in November 2023 that this long-range drone entered production with international partners (likely based in Europe), and Ukrainian officials claim that Ukraine will produce 1,000 such drones by the end of 2024.[34] Ukraine is also working to upgrade its Neptune cruise missiles to extend their range from 300 km.[35] Ukrainian volunteers are developing an inexpensive “Trembita” surface-to-surface cruise missile with a range of 140km to mass produce to overwhelm Russian air defenses.[36]

Air defense. Ukraine is working to launch production of its own indigenous anti-aircraft missile systems. Ukrainian officials reported in July 2023 that Ukraine is developing two new anti-aircraft missile systems (one possibly based on the design of Neptune missiles) and had already conducted missile test flights.[37]

Electronic warfare. Ukraine has experience manufacturing electronic warfare systems (EW) dating back to 2014 and has been investing in further developing specialized EW systems since Russia’s full-scale invasion.[38] Ukraine currently produces several specialized EW systems – though not at scale – some of which are reportedly better than Russian EW systems.[39] Ukraine is developing specialized EW systems to protect Ukrainian forces against Russian drones.[40]

Tactical equipment. Ukraine is increasingly self-sufficient in military body armor. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated in November 2023 that Ukrainian manufacturers produce “practically the entire volume of protective equipment” that the Ukrainian MoD procures, and that Ukraine strives to have all of Ukraine’s body armor, helmets, tactical equipment, clothing, and food rations manufactured domestically in Ukraine.[41]

Ukraine seeks to expand its domestic DIB even further to scale up defense manufacturing production in the short and the long term. Ukraine seeks to reinforce its progress in tripling defense output in 2023 to sextuple Ukraine’s domestic defense industry capacity in 2024.[42] Ukrainian defense manufacturers going into 2024 are prioritizing the manufacturing of ammunition, drones, and armored vehicles in that order, while also prioritizing the production of anti-tank missile and air defense systems.[43] Shmyhal announced on January 3, 2024, that Ukraine plans to spend more than 265 billion Ukrainian hryvnia (about $7 billion or 3.5 percent of Ukraine’s pre-invasion GDP) in 2024 on arms production, repairs, and purchases alone.[44]

For full report:  https://www.iswresearch.org/2024/01/ukraines-long-term-path-to-success.html 

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