Senators introduced an amendment to the Senate version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would give the Pentagon wartime procurement powers, allowing it to purchase more arms for Ukraine.
According to Defense News, the amendment would allow the Pentagon to purchase arms using multi-year contracting authorities, which are typically reserved for procuring naval vessels and warplanes.
It would grant the Pentagon the power to lock in contracts for the fiscal year 2023 and 2024 to buy munitions made by Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, and Raytheon, the former employer of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
The weapons makers have been cashing in on the US and NATO policy of arming Ukraine, and the amendment aims to incentivize them to increase the production of certain arms. The legislation would allow the Pentagon to partner with NATO to purchase weapons for alliance members in mass quantities.
The amendment would also remove other bureaucratic barriers, including allowing the Pentagon to purchase arms for Ukraine with non-competitive contracts. It would also wave a requirement for contractors to provide certified cost and pricing data, which are meant to ensure the Pentagon is paying a fair price.
The legislation shows that Congress expects to be supporting Ukraine in its war for years to come. Politico reported last week that NATO has a 10-year plan to rebuild Ukraine’s military and arms industry to shift the country’s armed forces from using Soviet equipment to primarily using NATO weapons.
A senior congressional aid speaking with Defense News said that the amendment could also be used to purchase weapons so the US could better confront China. “Whether you want to call it wartime contracting or emergency contracting, we can’t play around anymore,” the aide said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“We can’t pussyfoot around with minimum-sustaining-rate buys of these munitions. It’s hard to think of something as high on everybody’s list as buying a ton of munitions for the next few years, for our operational plans against China and continuing to supply Ukraine,” the aide added.
The Senate’s NDAA also includes $10 billion in military aid for Taiwan that will be disbursed over the next five years. The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the NDAA once mid-term elections are over in November. After that happens, the House and the Senate need to negotiate the final version in a conference, where amendments could be altered or removed.