The year 2022 ends with a shocking toll: according to figures cited by American General Mark Miley, 200,000 people have been killed or injured in the fratricidal war in Ukraine.
These horrific casualties allowed arms manufacturers to make huge profits. Under conditions where the Dow Jones index fell 10 percent for the year as a whole, US defense company stock prices surged.
Over the past 12 months, Northrop Grumman’s stock price is up 40 percent, Raytheon’s nearly 17 percent and Lockheed Martin’s 37 percent.
According to some estimates, military spending by the United States and its allies is rising to a level not seen since the end of World War II.
The number and monetary value of arms sales approved by the United States to its NATO allies almost doubled in 2022 compared to 2021, according to an analysis by the magazine Foreign Policy.
Foreign Policy wrote: “In 2021, the US government approved 14 possible major arms sales to NATO allies worth approximately $15.5 billion. In 2022, that number jumped to 24 possible major arms sales worth around $28 billion, including $1.24 billion in arms sales to Finland, an expected future NATO member. .”
In December, Germany announced an $8.4 billion plan to buy dozens of F-35 fighters from American arms manufacturers. In the same month, the United States approved a plan to sell more than one hundred M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Poland.
The United States has already approved plans to sell HIMARS launchers to Estonia and Lithuania, and a similar plan for Latvia is expected to be announced within months.
Major European powers are increasing their military spending, with ten NATO members spending more than 2 percent of their GDP on arms this year, up from four in 2014.
Last week, US President Joe Biden signed the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The final bill passed by Congress was $45 billion higher than that requested by the White House, which in turn was higher than the Pentagon’s request.
The budget marks an 8 percent increase over last year and a 30 percent increase in military spending over the Pentagon’s 2016 budget. The massive increase in military spending comes as the typical American household has seen its real income drop three percent over the past 12 months.
The bill increases funding for every military department and weapons program. The US Navy will receive $32 billion for new warships, including three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and two Virginia-class nuclear submarines. And the Pentagon is authorized to purchase 36 additional F-35 jets, each costing around $89 million.
Army spending on missile purchases will rise 55 percent, while navy arms purchases will rise 47 percent, according to an analysis by the New York Times.
In September, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman won a billion dollar contract to manufacture prototype hypersonic missiles for the US Air Force.
The Timessummarized the surge in orders from major defense contractors, noting that “Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest military contractor, had orders for military missiles worth more than $950 million from the Pentagon, partly to replenish stocks used in Ukraine. The military has awarded Raytheon Technologies contracts worth more than $2 billion to deliver missile systems to augment stockpiles or resupply weapons used to aid Ukraine.”
The increase in spending is also taking place among the Asian allies of the United States. This month, the Japanese government unveiled a new national defense strategy that will double the country’s military budget and transform its military into an offensive fighting force. For the first time, Japan will acquire long-range missiles capable of hitting China in an attack.
The huge amount of military equipment transferred to Ukraine almost defies belief. To date, the United States and its allies have supplied Ukraine with more than 100,000,000 small arms rounds, more than one million artillery shells and more than 100,000 tank shells.
In addition, they supplied Ukraine with some of the most advanced weapons in the US arsenal, including the Paladin armored gun, the NISAMS and Patriot anti-aircraft systems, as well as the HARM anti-radar missile and the Harpoon anti-ship missile.
But this is only the beginning. “We are going to increase production,” said the TimesChristine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army. “We are working closely with industry to increase both their capacity and also the speed at which they are able to produce.”
In an analysis carried out for the CEPA think tank, Timothy Ash, a member of the pro-imperialist British think tank Chatham House, observes that “wars are showcases for defense manufacturers… Putin’s error in judgment has not only provides a fantastic marketing opportunity to its Western competitors.”
The study notes that “the quality and capacity of the equipment [russe] now in question due to its poor performance on the battlefield, the Russians are likely to compete for better American equipment”.
No doubt with his estimate of immense potential profits for American and British defense contractors, Ash concluded: “Yet in many respects, when considering cost-effectiveness, American and Western support for the Ukraine is an incredibly profitable investment».
Ash’s comments echo Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov’s statement in July that “Ukraine is now essentially a testing ground”, adding that “many weapons are now being tested on the field in real combat conditions against the Russian army, which itself has numerous warning systems”.
He concluded: “We want to test modern systems in the fight against the enemy, and we invite arms manufacturers to test their new products here.”
(Article published in English on December 30, 2022)