Three weeks of a war with China would expend or exceed all or nearly all of the U.S. military’s inventory of long-range standoff munitions, according to recent wargames by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Such long-range weapons include the U.S. Air Force’s more than 4,000 AGM-158 Joint-Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM) and about 200 U.S. Navy AGM-158C Long-Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM).

“In nearly two dozen iterations of a CSIS war game that examined a U.S.-China war in the Taiwan Strait, the United States typically expended more than 5,000 long-range missiles in three weeks of conflict,” Seth Jones, the director of CSIS’ international security program, wrote in a report last week.

While the U.S./Japan/Taiwan coalition repelled the Chinese invasion of Taiwan in most of the wargame scenarios, the victory came at a high cost in aircraft, ships, and personnel.

The hypothetical mix of the more than 5,000 long-range missiles used in the three weeks of the CSIS wargaming included 4,000 JASSM and presumably JASSM-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) missiles with a range of more than 500 miles, 450 LRASMs, 400 Boeing [BA] Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and 400 Raytheon Technologies‘ [RTX] Tomahawk missiles.

LRASMs “would be particularly useful because of their ability to strike Chinese naval forces from outside the range of Chinese air defenses,” Jones wrote in the report, The U.S. Defense Industrial Base Is Not Prepared for a Possible Conflict with China. “As the war game showed, Chinese defenses are likely to be formidable—especially early on in a conflict—thus preventing most aircraft from moving close enough to drop short-range munitions. However, in every iteration of the war game, the United States expended its inventory of [LRASMs] within the first week of the conflict, creating a critical problem of ’empty bins.’ It takes nearly two years to produce a Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, creating a time lag to fix the shortfall.”

“The war in Ukraine is a stark reminder that any protracted conflict today is likely to be an industrial war,” Jones wrote.  “Industrial wars require a defense industry capable of manufacturing enough munitions, weapons systems, and matériel to replace depleted stockpiles.”

The U.S. Air Force, for its part, is assessing its inventory of munitions and future needs for high-end conflicts in which the service plans to use the Joint All Domain Command and Control architecture for rapid targeting of mobile adversaries, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown said last month (Defense Daily, Feb. 13).

Brown said that the Air Force is in a “pretty good spot for most of the munitions,” but there are “a handful” of concern.

The Pentagon looks to increase JASSM/LRASM production to a yearly rate of 1,100 at Lockheed Martin’s new plant in Troy, Ala., and the existing one in Orlando.

The 1,100 would be a significant production increase. In the fiscal 2023 omnibus, Congress funded the Biden administration’s request for 550 JASSMs and 28 LRASMs.

In 2021, the Air Force had said that 525 represented the highest possible, yearly production level–“max production”–of JASSM, including the AGM-158B JASSM-ER and the AGM-158D, 1,000 nautical mile “extreme range” JASSM-ER (Defense Daily, June 7, 2021).