U.S. missile manufacturers experience surge in demand

WASHINGTON. Makers of precision-guided missiles and bombs -- including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems -- are hastening to keep up with demand as the U.S. military continues its aerial assault on Islamic State targets, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

A recent report from U.S. Central Command shows that as of the middle of December (2016), the U.S. had conducted 13,041 airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria over approximately 28 months; in addition, coalition allies carried out an additional 3,747 strikes over the same time frame. The report says that a single strike often carries more than one munition. The aerial nature of the U.S. action has taxed supplies of the U.S. forces' preferred : Boeing's joint direct attack munition, known as the JDAM; the Boeing small-diameter bomb; and 's AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missile, according to data from the Journal report.

JDAM photo courtesy Boeing.

Munitions makers are stepping up production: Boeing, which now produces about 120 GPS guidance kits daily for the JDAM, plans to boost production to 150 guidance kits per day by July 2017, says Greg Coffey, Boeing JDAM programs director. Coffey also says that Boeing is set to boost production of small-diameter bombs by five times the current production rate by the end of 2017. Lockheed Martin, according to the Journal report, recorded an increase of $45 million in net sales of tactical missiles compared with the previous year, mostly due to increase in Hellfire missile deliveries. In addition, , the manufacturer of laser-guidance kits for the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS), reports that it is boosting production of the kits at its New Hampshire and Texas plants, with the intention to make 10,000 kits per year by the end of 2017 and 20,000 kits per year by the end of 2018.