The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the domestic and foreign supply chains of the defence industry highlighting the need to protect critical assets and ensure defence readiness.

Verdict has conducted a poll to assess the changes in defence supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Analysis of the poll results shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the defence supply chains.

While approximately 40% of the poll respondents voted that there has been largely no change in the defence supply chains due to the pandemic, the remaining 60% responded that changes are happening.

The supply chains are fragmented significantly due to COVID-19, according to 27% of the respondents, while 17% noted that the supply chains are witnessing change in another way. Supply chains are being integrated vertically, according to 16% of the respondents.

COVID-Defence supply chains changing

The analysis is based on 253 responses received from readers of Verdict’s defence sites Airforce Technology, Army Technology, and Naval Technology between 08 July 2020 and 29 September 2020.

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on US defence supply chains

COVID-19 has exposed some of the inherent vulnerabilities of the US defence supply chain. The US Department of Defense (DoD) took a number of steps to strengthen the supply chain starting with designating it as critical infrastructure. Measures have also been taken to identify the delivery and production challenges within the supply chain.

A key step taken towards safeguarding the supply chain is identifying the weaknesses and disruptions in the foreign supply chain and its impact on the US defence industry. The department is also evaluating delays in deliveries, milestones and other issues that are affecting production and modernisation programmes to better understand the overall impact of the pandemic.

The department has highlighted the need to avoid dependence on offshore semiconductor manufacturing and microelectronic components that are part of defence systems. It has noted that critical industries such as microelectronics, rare earth minerals and unmanned aerial systems should be shifted to the US.