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The U.S. Military Relies on One Louisiana Factory. It Blew Up.

An explosion at the sole domestic source of black powder in Louisiana left the Pentagon vulnerable to weapon shortages, highlighting the risks of consolidation in military suppliers and a single source problem.

  • An explosion at the sole domestic source of black powder destroyed all equipment and shut down production in June 2021, leaving the Pentagon vulnerable to weapon and ammunition shortages.
  • Military suppliers have consolidated over the past three decades, leaving lower-tier defense firms as the sole makers of vital parts such as black powder, creating a single source problem.
  • The black powder mill in Minden, Louisiana traces its origins to the 19th-century DuPont chemicals empire and is being rebuilt after the 2021 explosion.
  • The Pentagon invested $3.5 million in mill upgrades under the Defense Production Act and is working to strengthen the industrial base to address similar weaknesses in munitions, forging and casting, batteries and microelectronics.
  • The military is increasingly reliant on a smaller number of contractors for critical capabilities, making it vulnerable to crises that can bring production to a standstill.
The U.S. Military Relies on One Louisiana Factory. It Blew Up.
Decades of consolidation have left the Pentagon vulnerable to mishaps—including when the sole maker of a crucial type of gunpowder went offline

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