Seniors Guide New Missile Production For Ukraine


Raytheon is pulling long-retired production workers out of their easy chairs and fishing boats to teach the current generation of factory employees how to make Stinger shoulder-launched missiles. Stingers have been out of production for 20 years and the stockpiles in the U.S. and other allies have been depleted by donations to Ukraine. They’re still in demand so Raytheon is literally dusting off equipment to get them rolling off the line again. “We’re pulling test equipment out of warehouses and blowing the spider webs off them,” Wes Kremer, CEO of RDX, Raytheon’s parent company, told DefenseOne.

The defense department and contractors are working on an up-to-date replacement for the Stinger, but it’s not ready yet so the Stinger remains the portable missile system of choice for Ukrainian forces. The U.S. alone has shipped 1,700 to the country since it was invaded by Russia in 2022 and it’s running out. Since almost no one in the company had ever worked on a Stinger, the company got on the phone and started tracking down ex-employees who could help bring the current staff up to speed on tech that was developed before some of them were born. “We were bringing back retired employees who are in their 70s … to show our new employees how to actually build a Stinger,” Kremer said.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

Other AVwebflash Articles


  1. This is an interesting article. It is kind of a canary in the coal mine issue. This country is spending hundreds of billions of dollars on defense every year, but we don’t seem to have the basics to wage a conventional land war. The war in Ukraine has depleted our stockpiles of ammunition for artillery (now using cluster shells to fill the void) as well as ground to air defense and a multitude of other weapons. Are we spending our defense dollars on the things we really need? Yes, the Ukrainian soldiers are probably not trained well enough to use the weapons wisely or efficiently, but that happens in the heat of battle. We seem to be in love with all the high-tech weapons that cost billions, but maybe we should pay more attention to the basics. I also wonder when Raytheon begins to scale up production, will they be able to source the needed parts without discovering all the stuff is made in China, and now not available.

    • “Canary in the coal mine” is well put. I believe part of the war in UK from China’s standpoint is to bleed-down US and western stockpiles. We cannot make anything any longer.

      USA has approved 22 arms deals to Taiwan, and we are struggling to supply 3 of them. Israel PM said the Biden admin looted 250,000 artillery rounds from Israeli stockpiles to give to Ukraine.

      When Trump kicked Nato in the fanny to live up to its treaty responsibilities, France had about a week of aircraft munitions on hand.

      We don’t have a lot, it’s going quickly, and we struggle to make more.

      • I think you hit it on the head. Our capabilities are at serious risk and very few people seem to realize it.

      • The West is thanking Russia for re-energizing all of us. Who’da thunk that we’d need to get back on a war footing with the fat, old bear? It’s a great opportunity, I’m only sorry that the wonderful people of Ukraine have to suffer and fight for the freedom we all took for granted.

      • Or at any other bureaucracy for doing the necessary, but not new things. Everyone is running around working on extra credit projects while the basics are often being ignored.

  2. Slight correction: Wes Kremer is President of Raytheon. The Parent company is RTX (formerly known as Raytheon Technologies). RTX’s CEO is Greg Hayes.

  3. We are concerned that the world might run out of weapons? Might that actually be a good thing?