With the aim of providing long-term support to Ukraine, allies and partners recognize the importance of standardizing systems and munitions, thereby creating more interchangeable and interoperable systems, Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante said.
LaPlante chaired the first meeting of the national armaments directors from member nations of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Sept. 28, in Brussels, Belgium, where the topic was discussed.
Today, he was joined by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Sasha N. Baker, who also attended the Brussels meeting, to discuss the defense industrial base and long-term security assistance support for Ukraine by allies and partners at a Pentagon press briefing.
LaPlante provided an example of interchangeable parts. The 155 mm artillery rounds for the M-777 (howitzer) produced in different countries should all be interchangeable, he said.
"That's where we need to go in lots of these systems. But it also means we're going to have to agree on standards," he said, meaning standards agreed upon by the Defense Department, allies and partners.
"That's where we would like to potentially go; not for everything, but where it makes sense," he added.
Regarding the Brussels meeting, LaPlante said it resulted in commitments to stand up smaller working groups to work through multinational strategies, to mitigate supply chain constraints, increase production, and work to increase interoperability and interchangeability of systems.
"This frank and open dialogue was exactly what we hoped to see as we went into the meeting. And I'm proud of the collective efforts to support Ukrainians in the long term," he said. "The ability for us to work together across all the nations … to solve challenges is inspiring," he added.
Baker said the level of dialogue and unified action among the participants "really underscores our unwavering global commitment to stand with Ukraine as it defends its sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression."
Regarding standardization, Baker said allies will need to work with Ukraine to get their military hardware to NATO standards and "get them to a place where they can sustain their military and their defensive abilities over the long term. We have to start that now," she said, because of the contracting and production timelines.
She added that the department is in constant conversations with Ukraine about their needs, both short and long-term.
The Russians have sent operators to Iran to learn how to use that natio's unmanned aerial vehicles that they are providing, she mentioned.
The fact that they are seeking help from Iran illustrates desperation on their part, she said. The department believes the Russians are suffering from major supply shortages, in part, because of sanctions and export controls.
"We have seen some evidence already that the UAVs associated with the transfer from Iran have already experienced numerous failures on the battleground," she added.
The Ukraine Defense Contact Group will meet again in Brussels Oct. 12 and 13.