The US Defense Industry: Support for Ukraine and Economic Growth

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by Leonid Kadnikov

Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has been providing systemic military support to Ukraine. Even though many believe that the U.S. economy is draining because of this, in reality, a considerable amount of money remains in the states, the industry is developing, the defense sector is improving, and as a result, the number of jobs is growing, and the general welfare of citizens is getting better. It is also beneficial for the United States to restore military enterprises, as European armories are becoming more active, and the US needs to remain competitive.

In Ohio, due to aid to Ukraine, drone production has increased, and more in-depth research in this area has been conducted. Approximate investments in 2022 in this area amounted to 9 million dollars.

Defense companies also began to explore the possibility of producing airships with a larger payload. Moreover, the production of Abrams tanks has increased. For example, the Lima plant can produce up to 33 tanks per month.

Over the 2022-2023 period, Ohio’s unemployment rate decreased. This can be attributed to the recovery from the COVID crisis, but it is also strongly related to the increase in defense production, which was stimulated by aid to Ukraine. In 2023, the unemployment rate dropped from 4% to 3%, and underemployment fell from about 8% to 6%.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton and its supporting industries and contractors alone contribute 1.2% of Ohio’s GDP in 2022. And overall GDP growth over the past year was 4.6%.

The situation is also improving in other states. Here is a list of cities that will benefit from the contracts to produce weapons:

  • Switchblade unmanned aerial systems, radar systems, and tactical vehicles: Simi Valley, CA.; Fullerton, CA; Andover, MA; Forest, MS; and York, PA.
  • Bradley infantry fighting vehicles: York, PA, and Anniston, AL.
  • Howitzers: Aiken, SC; Elgin, OK; Sterling Heights, MI; Endicott, NY; York, PA; and Minneapolis.
  • HIMARS launchers: Peoria, IL; Clearwater, Palm Bay and Niceville, FL; Camden, AR; Lancaster and Grand Prairie, TX; Rocket Center, WV; and Trenton, NJ.
  • Parts for the Hydra-70 rocket: Anniston and Huntsville, AL, and Camden, AR.
  • Javelin antitank missiles: Farmington, NM; Orlando; Tucson; and Troy, AL.

Efforts to arm and equip Ukraine have also dramatically boosted sales of U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets. This benefits workers at production facilities in Palmdale (CA), East Hartford (CT), Middletown (IA), and Fort Worth, as well as in other U.S. cities that produce parts for the jets.

Moreover, with money authorized by Congress to arm Kyiv, the shells are assembled in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre (PA) and at a new plant in Camden, Arkansas, using components (including explosives, propellants, primers, fuzes, and shell casings) manufactured in such U.S. cities and towns as Kingsport and Cordova (TN); Bristol (PA); Middletown (IA); and Coachella (CA). The plant under construction in Mesquite (TX) is expected to produce about 20,000 shells per month and employ at least 125 people once it becomes operational early next year.

Another good example of how aid to Ukraine is helping the states is $600 million allocated to develop two new weapons systems for Ukraine in St. Charles (MO). One of them is the JDAM ER (Joint Direct Attack Munition-Extended Range). This GPS-guided bomb increases the range and accuracy of unguided munitions, turning them into guided munitions with an accuracy of up to 45 miles (three times that of conventional munitions).

The other one is the GLSDB (Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb), a new weapon system for Ukraine that can be launched from highly mobile HIMARS missile systems and has a range of up to 93 miles, nearly double that of existing precision-guided ground-based systems.

In addition, Ukraine’s military support returns relevance to producing previously developed weapons. For example, the U.S. has had no production of Stingers since 2005. Now, thanks to the military aid to Ukraine, the Pentagon signed a $624.6 million contract to build Stinger missiles in Tucson to replace some 1,400 missiles sent to Ukraine. The Stinger production line would likely have remained idle if not for USA efforts to supply Ukraine.


Aid to Ukraine helps not only in that it prevents the war from spreading to other countries, including the U.S., but also improves the economic situation in the states. Due to military supply, the number of jobs in Ohio has increased, unemployment has decreased overall, and GDP has increased noticeably. This means that continued aid to Ukraine will only help prosper and develop the military industry, the U.S. economy, and Ohio in general. What’s more, it’s not just Ohio; other states have gotten advantages as well. First of all, it concerns the increase of military production in such states as California, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and others. If not for aid allocation to Ukraine, some types of weapons would not have been produced at all or in small quantities. Thus, military aid to Ukraine not only improves the economic situation of the United States (more jobs and so on) but also restores the defense industry.

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