NATO signed a nearly $700 million contract to increase the production of Stinger missiles among member countries. This move is part of a broader initiative at the Washington summit, where the alliance is urging each nation to enhance its defense manufacturing capabilities.

Stoltenberg’s Announcement

Outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the contract on Tuesday during a Chamber of Commerce industry day. The event focused on enhancing NATO members’ defense production to better deter future threats. Stoltenberg emphasized, “There is no way to provide strong defense without a strong defense industry.”

About the Stinger Missile

The Stinger missile, produced by Raytheon, is a portable surface-to-air defense system. It can be carried by troops or mounted on vehicles to offer short-range defense against aircraft. It was one of the first weapons the U.S. sent to Ukraine following Russia’s 2022 invasion.

Backdrop of Uncertainty

The NATO summit is taking place amidst significant geopolitical uncertainty. U.S. political divisions have delayed weapons deliveries to Ukraine, and the upcoming presidential election raises concerns about future U.S. support for NATO. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has suggested that he might allow Russia to act freely against NATO members not meeting their defense spending commitments.

Defense Spending Commitments

23 out of 32 NATO members are expected to meet the 2% GDP defense spending commitment this year, a significant increase from just six members before Russia invaded Ukraine. Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur highlighted that Russia now spends an estimated 7 to 9 percent of its GDP on defense. Estonia, spending over three percent of its GDP on defense, acknowledges the need to replenish its stockpiles.

U.S. and International Support for Ukraine

Since the invasion, the U.S. has provided over $53.6 billion in weapons and security assistance to Ukraine. This support, alongside aid to Israel and Taiwan, has strained U.S. stockpiles. According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, other NATO members and international partners have contributed approximately $50 billion in support.

Strengthening Defense Industrial Capacity

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan stated that for the first time, NATO countries will each pledge to develop plans to strengthen their industrial defense capacities. This initiative aims to prioritize the production of essential defense equipment in the event of conflict.

Future Commitments

Two NATO officials, speaking anonymously, revealed that the summit is focusing on having each member submit defense industrial plans within the following year. These plans will detail how they intend to boost internal production through partnerships with industry or other countries. The size and capabilities of defense industries vary widely among the 32 NATO members, leading to diverse approaches in their plans.