Raytheon has called in retired engineers to help produce Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that the US has been providing Ukraine, Defense One reported on Thursday.
Stingers are shoulder-fired missiles that were out of production for 20 years until the US started sending them to Ukraine when Russia first invaded last year, a policy led by a former Raytheon board member, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
According to the Pentagon, the US has provided Ukraine with over 1,700 Stinger missile systems to date.
"Stinger’s been out of production for 20 years, and all of a sudden in the first 48 hours [of the war], it’s the star of the show and everybody wants more," Wes Kremer, the president of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, said last week.
Raytheon needs to produce the Stingers using blueprints drawn up during the Carter administration, as using more advanced production methods would require redesigning the weapon.
"We were bringing back retired employees that are in their 70s … to teach our new employees how to actually build a Stinger," Kremer said. "We’re pulling test equipment out of warehouses and blowing the spider webs off of them."
The US Army placed an order for Stingers in May 2022 to replace ones sent to Ukraine, but the Pentagon said they won’t be delivered until 2026. Kremer said it would take at least 30 months for the first missiles to be completed due to the time it will take to restart production.
In March 2022, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes explained how the war in Ukraine would be a boon for the weapons maker.
"Everything that’s being shipped into Ukraine today, of course, is coming out of stockpiles, either at DoD or from our NATO allies, and that’s all great news. Eventually we’ll have to replenish it and we will see a benefit to the business over the next coming years," he said.