The Pentagon has begun to put pressure on suppliers of components for weapons in Mexico, to reopen factories and restart exports to the US. Many factories have closed or slowed production due to the coronavirus pandemic, and many US arms manufacturers – in particular of aircraft – are reliant on components made in Mexico. Out of 10,509 prime defence manufacturers, 106 factories in Mexico are closed, including companies “of particular importance to the U.S. for airframe production”. 68 others have reopened after a period of closure.
Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said in a press conference that they were working through the US embassy in Mexico, and would write to Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard “to ask for help to reopen international suppliers”. Lord indicated that the Pentagon is expecting three month delays in “major defense acquisition programs”. Lord also said shipments of components from India had been impacted.
The US’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act includes $2.2 trillion to stimulate the economy, including $17 billion for businesses “critical to maintaining national security” and $10.5 billion to the Department for Defense, most of which is likely to be spent on buying goods and services from contractors, and $2.4 billion meant to be spent on supporting the defence industry and limit the impact of the pandemic on DoD suppliers.