The United States has sent so many of its Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine that its stocks are running low for possible use by its own forces, according a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Replenishing the US stockpile with new weapons will take years, according to the report from Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the International Security Program at CSIS.
What is the Javelin? It's a shoulder-fired anti-armor missile made by US defense giants Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The missile is a so-called “fire and forget” weapon, meaning it guides itself to its target after launch, allowing its operator to take cover and avoid counterfire.
Use in Ukraine: Ukrainian forces have used it to devastating effect against Russian tanks, negating what was, before the war, thought to be an overwhelming Russian advantage.
It could also be very useful to US forces in any unforeseen conflict, but Cancian said the Pentagon needs to keep an eye on the drawdown in its stocks.
“Military planners are likely getting nervous,” he wrote.
“The United States maintains stocks for a variety of possible global conflicts that may occur against North Korea, Iran, or Russia itself. At some point, those stocks will get low enough that military planners will question whether the war plans can be executed. The United States is likely approaching that point.”
Cancian estimates there may be 20,000 to 25,000 Javelins remaining in the stockpiles and the 7,000 systems sent to Ukraine "represent about one-third of the US total inventory."
"It will take about three or four years to replace the missiles that have been delivered so far. If the United States delivers more missiles to Ukraine, this time to replace extends,” Cancian said.
Some context: A senior US defense official said Wednesday the massive shipments of weapons to Ukraine, including thousands of Javelin anti-armor missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, have not affected the readiness of US forces.