DFNC1: US Edition. First results of the US-Ukrainian conference on joint arms production

On December 6, the DFNC1: US Edition, dedicated to joint arms production between Ukraine and the United States, started. The event brought together about 350 representatives of the defense industry from the United States, Ukraine and Europe, as well as government officials from around the world. Among the representatives of the U.S. government were U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Supply William LaPlante, and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery Penny Pritzker. The Ukrainian delegation was headed by the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, Minister of Strategic Industries Alexander Kamyshin, and Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the conference via video link. He noted that despite the hostilities, Ukraine is recording economic growth and, together with its partners, is increasing the production of weapons and military equipment. Defense enterprises are working, “and Ukrainian missiles, Ukrainian drones, artillery produced in Ukraine, and shells are coming to the front”.

“We are interested in jointly producing the entire range of weapons necessary for modern warfare. These include guns, armored vehicles, and drones. Repair and maintenance of equipment. Security on the ground, in the sky and at sea. Ukraine does not want to depend only on its partners – Ukraine wants and can actually become a donor of security for all our neighbors when it can guarantee protection for itself. We really can do it,” the President emphasized.

“We came here with a very specific goal – to establish cooperation. First of all, we are talking about shells, air defense systems and long-range missiles. We have a saying: good things come with fists. But unfortunately, fists are not enough to stop the newest axis of evil,” mentioned Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized that the United States, together with its allies and partners, should continue to work to help Ukraine.

“We have already invested about $27 billion in the production of critical equipment for Ukraine, including air defense systems, ammunition, military equipment, etc. And I hope that Congress will soon approve the President’s national security request, which will direct an additional $50 billion to American manufacturing,” said Lloyd Austin.

Minister of Strategic Industries Alexander Kamyshin noted that Russian aggression has depleted our partners’ arms stockpiles and said that investments in the Ukrainian defense industry and joint production will accelerate the filling of warehouses after our victory. He emphasized that this will be a mutually beneficial cooperation.

“Industry, above all, is about business opportunities. An opportunity to rapidly scale up production capabilities, as Ukraine is the place where defense industry regulation is most favorable to the producer. An opportunity to improve your products and ensure their effectiveness in real combat conditions by leveraging the experience of Ukrainian engineers and armed forces. We’ll be happy to share lessons learnt in defense tech as well — after all, it is defense tech that allows creating asymmetrical responses to the force of the enemy. This is an opportunity to open new markets,” emphasized Alexander Kamyshin.

According to him, Ukrainian producers have made significant progress in the transition from Soviet-style weapons to NATO-standard weapons.

“A good example of this transition is the FrankenSAM program, which is the creation of hybrid solutions combining Soviet and NATO elements. This program is already being implemented, and I am grateful for the support of the US Army and defense industry,” the minister said.

This program has received further support. The US Department of Defense and industry partners have provided Ukraine with technical data to start local production of some FrankenSAM projects aimed at optimizing Ukraine’s outdated air defense systems by integrating certain Western munitions. The parallel production of these systems in Ukraine and the United States will make a significant contribution to the sustainment of Ukraine’s air defense systems.

“Ukraine is the only country in the world that is fighting a full-scale war against an enemy that has a powerful industry. For us, it is a matter of survival to create a military industry that matches the scale of the enemy’s industrial capacity. We need a powerful Industrial Coalition to unite our efforts in the fight against Russian terror,” said Minister of Defense of Ukraine Rustem Umerov.

The topic of joint U.S.-Ukrainian production was further elaborated by the signing of an important document. The U.S. Department of Defense, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and the Ministry of Strategic Industries of Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Intent on joint production and technical data exchange to meet the urgent operational needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In particular, it concerns air defense systems, maintenance and production of critical ammunition, and the establishment of joint defense industry enterprises.

It also provides for the creation of working groups for the joint production of air defense systems. The goal is to support existing systems and improve interoperability with the United States and NATO.

The statement of intent strengthens cooperation between the United States and Ukraine and will facilitate faster flow of investment agreements through the system.

The State Department, in cooperation with the US Congress, plans to send an advisor to the Ministry of Strategic Industries of Ukraine. His task is to support and accelerate Ukraine’s accession to an interoperable military force, fight corruption, and attract foreign investment in critical industries.

The United States also created an interagency team called the Ukraine Deal Team. Its goal is to support partners in potential deals for Ukraine’s defense industry. The team will include representatives of the State Department, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Commerce. Team contacts: UkraineDealTeam@state.gov