July 18, 2002
U.S. weapons makers have doubled the production rate of laser-guided bombs, added a shift to assemble satellite-guided bomb tail kits and boosted output at one ammunition factory to its highest level in 15 years. While some of the ordnance will replace stocks ransacked for Clinton's air campaign in Yugoslavia and further depleted in the war in Afghanistan, there are analysts claiming that another reason for the buildup is to stockpile weapons for possible military action against Iraq.
Military planners love the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) for its pinpoint accuracy and relatively low cost of less than $25,000 each. One Navy admiral has credited the JDAM with increasing aircraft carrier lethality fivefold. About 9,000 new JDAMs have been built this year, although the military still has only a fraction of the 40,000 to 50,000 JDAMs it wants.
The St. Charles, MO Boeing Corporation factory added a second shift of workers earlier this year to increase production from about 1,000 kits per month to 1,500. The company plans to boost further production, to 2,000 per month by the end of 2002 and 2,800 per month by the middle of 2003. That would add another 20,000 plus JDAMs to the U.S. arsenal within a year and about 37,000 by the end of 2003. At it's highest rate, Boeing could make enough JDAMs to satisfy the 40,000 stockpile in about 14 months. Pleasant dreams, President Hussein. - Adam Geibel