Even as diplomats work on a last-ditch effort to get Syria to hand over its chemical weapons to international authorities, the US gearing up to do what it does best: bomb a distant country. At this moment, six American warships are sitting in the Mediterranean, loaded with hundreds of missiles waiting to attack Syria should they get the order. If the complex, involved effort to get Bashar al-Assad to give up his chemical weapons fails and Barack Obama gives the go-ahead for a “limited” strike against his regime, those ships will let fly with hundreds of missiles—and that means the Pentagon will have to replace those weapons by purchasing them from defense contractors like Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. How much is that going to cost?Read the rest here.
To begin with, the US will likely want to target Syria's air force. To do that, according to a report by Christopher Harmer, a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War think tank, three types of missiles would likely be involved: Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs), and Joint Standoff Weapons (JSOWs).
Those kinds of missiles are a big part of what makes the US defense budget so massive. According to DefenseNews, the first few weeks of America’s intervention in Libya cost about $600 million, and more than half of that ($340 million) was spent on replacing munitions, in particular the hundreds of Tomahawk missiles it unloaded on the North African country at $1.4 million a pop. JASSMs and JSOWs are less expensive, but at about $900,000 and $285,000 apiece, respectively, they aren’t exactly a bargain.
The number of missiles expended in an attack on Syria will depend on how many targets the US decides to bomb—potentially, it could be more extensive than the air strikes against Libya. A report about the potential costs and risks of striking Syria from the RAND Corporation, a government think tank, says “hundreds of sea- and air-launched cruise missiles” would be needed for an attack if the aim was to take out Assad’s air force, and General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has written that the military could “strike hundreds of targets at a tempo of our choosing.”
An attack on the scale that Dempsey describes would likely mean hundreds of millions in new revenue for defense contractors.
Of course, if the war expands, so will the payments to military contractors.