Budget constraints to delay aircraft modernization
March 21, 2012
By Gary Sheftick
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 21, 2012) -- Some modernization programs may be delayed, but not reduced or cancelled due to a tightening of the budget, senior Army leaders told senators Wednesday.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno testified Wednesday morning to the Senate Appropriations Committee, subcommittee on Defense regarding the service's fiscal year 2013 budget request.
"We had to slip some of the procurement programs to the right," McHugh told lawmakers about the Army's rotary-wing aircraft fleet.
Modernization of Apache helicopters is down to 48 per year, Odierno said. Some CH-47 Chinook performance upgrades will be reduced, he told senators.
UH-60 Black Hawk modernization will be delayed in all components. the active force, Army Reserve and National Guard, Odierno said. The procurement of 72 UH-60M helicopters will be moved at least six years, outside the current Procurement Objective Memorandum or POM, he said.
Upgrades to the Kiowa Warrior have been funded, Odierno said, but added that may change later this year when a decision is made on whether to procure the Armed Aerial Scout helicopter.
No final decision has been made on the C-23 Sherpa program, Odierno said. But he said the Army has some issues with the older aircraft that doesn't quite fill the Army's requirement for intra-theater transport.
Modernization of the C-23 is projected to cost $800,000 to $1 million per aircraft, McHugh said.
"That program has some real dollars attached to it," he told senators.
McHugh explained that the Army had identified a requirement for intra-theater airlift. The C-27 Joint Cargo Aircraft program was one of the solutions, he said. The Army had initially planned that program jointly with the Air Force. Then the Air Force assumed full responsibility for the program before deciding that the intra-theater airlift could be accomplished using C-130s. Odierno said the Army is working with the Air Force on the requirement.
Other technologies will be integrated into the force incrementally, McHugh said. The Army is moving ahead with development of the Ground Combat Vehicle, which will replace the Infantry Fighting Vehicle, he said.
In developing the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV, the Army saved $400 million by reducing the cycle from 48 to 33 months, he said.
McHugh added that one of the most important modernizations underway is the integration of tactical networks. Exercises at White Sand Missile Range are testing equipment in a series of Network Integration Evaluations.
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