Precision Munitions Are Costly, and Used in Growing Numbers
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has bragged that the US is “hitting more targets than we’ve ever hit in a long time in Iraq, Syria, and in Afghanistan,” with tens of thousands of bombs dropped in 2016 alone. Those numbers show no sign of getting smaller any time soon.
That’s bad news for the people in those countries the bombs are falling on, and bad news for the taxpayers, but it’s great news for a handful of key US arms makers, who are seeing their sales soar on the orders that the military has placed to replace the dropped bombs and fired missiles.
These bombs aren’t cheap, with even the smaller “dumb bombs” amounting to $30,000 or more, and more advanced technology like Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missiles costing in excess of $100,000 each. With thousands of Hellfire missiles being fired, that’s a costly proposition.
From the Pentagon’s perspective, the big issue in all of this is that the companies are having trouble escalating production fast enough to meet demand, and they are fretting that bombs are being dropped faster than they’re being replaced.
For companies like Boeing and Lockheed, that’s a good problem to have, with the companies not just seeing record volume in their orders, but juicy margins on rush shipments as the Pentagon keeps finding new explodable stuff to drop things on.