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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp plans to nearly double production of Javelin missiles, the antitank weapon that has helped Ukraine fight Russia's invasion, Chief Executive Officer James Taiclet said in an interview on Sunday.
The aim is to boost output to 4,000 per year from 2,100 per year currently, Taiclet said in an interview with CBS News. The increase will take as long as a couple of years, he said.
U.S. President Joe Biden last week visited a Lockheed facility in Alabama that manufactures the weapons, which are made jointly by Lockheed and Raytheon Technologies, in an effort to press Congress to approve his proposed $33 billion assistance package for Ukraine.
The United States has rushed $3.4 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, including Javelins as well as howitzers, anti-aircraft Stinger systems, ammunition and body armor.
"We can start turning up the heat now and ramping up production immediately," Taiclet said, noting the firm is anticipating increased demand for "superior systems in large enough numbers".
"We're planning for the long run and not just in the Javelin," he said, noting he expects to see increased demand beyond the Ukraine war due to threats from Russia and China.
(Reporting by Chris Prentice; Editing by Daniel Wallis)