In a (relatively) near future setting, several factions scramble to militarize as civil unrest on their planet turns into civil war. Factories are reprogrammed and prototypes sent to the front, guns blazing, in an effort to preempt the opposition. Without a large stockpile of ammunitions, however, those guns are about to run dry. How do we prevent that?
A typical "heavy armor company" consists of 3-5 large vehicles (for the sake of this question, let's say two main battle tanks, one heavy artillery and a recon aircraft) with an individual mass of up to 120 tons, supported by a convoy of transport and engineering vehicles, a few drones, power armored infantry and lots of support personnel.
The company has the ability to perform extensive repairs and/or modifications, provided that spare parts are available. Anything but minor repairs requires a hangar and some stationary equipment (think airliner maintenance). However, vehicles can be refueled and rearmed in the field, if necessary.
New vehicles, weapons and spare parts are made in large factories and sent to the front via convoy. However, since production cannot keep up with losses, most companies rely in part on field salvage and black market trade to remain operational. Vehicles are fairly modular, so removing e.g. a capacitor bank from a wrecked tank and installing it in your own is possible.
In a pitched battle, a single vehicle can use up to five or six tons of ammunition, hopefully taking out multiple targets in the process.
Notes on available technology:
- Most vehicles above 20t carry a miniaturized nuclear (or similarly effective) power source.
- 3D printing, advanced materials and limited nanomachines exist.
- Rapid iterative design is common in the production of vehicles and other high tech goods, which increases flexibility and design quality, but may limit output.
- In addition to conventional weapons and railguns, directed energy weapons and electronic warfare are effective tools in combat.
Factors that make ammunition more scarce:
- This society is already pretty good at making (civilian) vehicles. They've just started producing weapons and ammunition on a relevant scale.
- Point defenses and active protection systems are very common, so a single shell or missile is likely to be deflected. To stop a tank, you fire volleys.
- Anti-air and anti-orbital defenses, which rely on specialized missiles and extreme velocity shells, will get resupplied before ground vehicles. Losing a few tanks is acceptable, a ballistic missile strike on your factories is not. Directed energy weapons lack the range to serve an anti-air role.
Considering the above circumstances, would it make sense to salvage and/or produce ammunition between battles or does a company have to rely entirely on supplies delivered from the factories? Would it at least be feasible to re-produce simpler ammunition types (e.g. railgun projectiles)?