MARCH 19, 2019 – As part of the release of the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, more than $57 billion in a five-year defense plan will be dedicated to modernization and other signature Army programs, the Army’s undersecretary said Thursday.
In turn, the Army is offering “a tremendous opportunity” to industry officials that are willing to step up their research and development investments to innovate the force’s six modernization priorities, Ryan D. McCarthy said during a discussion at The Brookings Institution.
The modernization priorities are being driven by an era of “great power competition” as stated in the National Defense Strategy. The Army’s near-peer competitors are creating effective forms of standoff through new tactics and technologies, McCarthy said.
“The Army of today — as battle-hardened as it may be — lacks the next-generation weapons and other capabilities that are needed to confront these most sophisticated adversaries as part of a truly joint and networked force,” he said. “We are reaching the limit of what can be added to and improved on platforms that have been the mainstay of the Army for decades.”
BUDGET SUPPORTS CFTS
Starting with the top modernization priority — Long Range Precision Fires — the Army plans to allocate nearly $5.7 billion of its five-year defense plan, or FYDP, and $1.3 billion in fiscal 2020 toward the program. A portion of that funding will help field hypersonic systems to stay ahead of advancements made by competitors, McCarthy said.
Funding plans include “a precision strike missile that doubles the firepower and increases the range of existing missile artillery systems,” he said, in addition to extended range cannon artillery with the capability to fire accurately over 40 miles.
Other plans allocate more than $13.2 billion over the FYDP, with nearly $2 billion in fiscal 2020, toward Next Generation Combat Vehicles, McCarthy said.
Parts of the NGCV investment will support “a robotic and optionally manned combat vehicle that includes artificial intelligence,” he added.
In Future Vertical Lift, the Army looks to replace the force’s aging helicopter fleet with aerial platforms that have “greater speed, maneuverability, and lethality,” he said.
“Specifically, an attack [and] recon aircraft and a long-range aircraft, with a generational leap in capability including optionally manned,” he added.
To do so, the Army plans to invest more than $4.7 billion over the FYDP, which includes almost $800 million in fiscal 2020, he said.
Under the Network priority, the Army looks to “leverage commercial technologies and space-based systems” to develop a new command, control, and communications network, he said, adding it must be capable, resilient, agile, and present a reduced electromagnetic signature.
Over the FYDP, the force plans to invest more than $12.5 billion on the Army’s network, which includes $2.3 billion in fiscal 2020.
For Air and Missile Defense, the force plans to invest nearly $8.8 billion over the FYDP. This includes a $1.4 billion investment in fiscal 2020, McCarthy said.
“The Army can no longer presume to operate in an environment as we have since the fall of the Berlin Wall, in which the U.S. has air supremacy,” he said. “This will revitalize atrophied short-range air defenses, and support procurement of an integrated fire protection capability like Iron Dome and others.”
In Soldier Lethality, McCarthy said, the Army has slated more than $6.7 billion in the FYDP, with $845 million in fiscal 2020.
“This funding supports an integrated visual augmentation system that employs artificial intelligence and digital-fused images to give infantrymen superior battlefield awareness, to include real-time performance data to improve decision making,” McCarthy said.
Further, Soldier Lethality funding will support “a next generation squad weapon and rifle that will leap beyond the current World War II-era physics still used in most of our small arms,” he added.
The Army is also looking to invest in artificial intelligence, directed energy, quantum computing, and space, he added.
FUNDING CUTS, REALIGNMENT
With the proposed budget, the Army was forced to make many hard choices, the undersecretary said. During the Army’s “night court” process, the force scrubbed and aligned billions of dollars to focus on the modernization priorities, in addition to supporting 30 signature programs.
“First, we needed to prioritize requirements for near-term contingencies and longer-term threats,” he said. “Second, exert the fiscal discipline to divest legacy programs and make other tough choices needed to meet those requirements without going back to the White House or Congress later for additional funding.”
After the Army completed a line-by-line budgetary review of all its programs, the force realigned $30 billion across the FYDP, McCarthy said. This realignment included approximately $8 billion in cost avoidance measures and about $22 billion in cuts or terminations.
The Army eliminated more than 90 programs in the process, and funding for nearly as many programs was reduced, he added.
Notably, the Army plans to stop production and block upgrades for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle by 2023, he said. The Bradley vehicle fleet dates back to the early 1980s.
Similarly, the Army will halt future procurement of the CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopter, he said.
“Although the platform originally dates back to the 1960s, the Army’s recent investment in the Block I upgrade make it the youngest fleet in the Army — a de-facto service life of less than eight years,” he said. “The CH-47F Block I provides an extremely capable heavy lift capacity and the Army currently has over 10 percent more Chinooks than required.”
Further, the Army will also reduce its planned spending on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program, he said. By cutting nearly $800 million over the FYDP, the Army will receive 1,900 fewer JLTVs over the lifespan of the program.
“The JLTV is a new vehicle — more survivable than a Humvee, more maneuverable than a [mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle],” he said. “There’s no doubt the Army needs it in the future, just not at the numbers of the original program of record when the requirements of a high-intensity land conflict are considered.”
By 2028, this shift will give the Army a fleet mix of 55,000 Humvees, 49,000 JLTVs and 800 Infantry Squad Vehicles — over 100,000 troop transport vehicles in all, he added.
By Devon L. Suits, Army News Service