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Army budget request eyes $2B boost for modernization

By Sean Kimmons, Army News Service February 13, 2020

WASHINGTON -- The Army proposes to add over $2 billion to its modernization efforts next fiscal year that will help continue to develop hypersonic missiles, future aircraft and combat vehicles.

The fiscal year 2021 budget request released Monday asks for $10.6 billion for the Army's six modernization priorities, a jump from this fiscal year's enacted budget of $8.5 billion.

Of those priorities, long-range precision fires will receive $1.7 billion, if the budget is approved as is. Within it, $800 million would fund a long-range hypersonic missile program that aims to fill a critical capability gap against anti-access/aerial denial capabilities, according to budget documents.

The Army expects to field its first hypersonic unit and fire test shots in fiscal 2022, followed by fielding combat rounds in fiscal 2023.

In the future vertical lift portfolio, the Army requested $514 million to complete the final design phase of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, a replacement for the AH-64 Apache and retired OH-58 Kiowa Warrior.

Under the next-generation combat vehicle priority, $328 million is set aside to fund the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle that will replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Last month, the Army canceled its solicitation for a rapid prototype and plans to solicit it again to gain more interest from industry in order to build a better vehicle.

An additional $135 million is slated for the Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle that will fund rapid prototyping efforts ahead of limited-user testing in fiscal 2022.

The air and missile defense priority is also allotted $376 million for lower tier air missile defense sensors that provide detection capabilities for the Patriot missile system. Another $236 million will fund increment 2 of the indirect fire protection capability, a mobile, ground-based weapon system designed to defeat unmanned aircraft systems, cruise missiles and rockets, artillery and mortars.

To help fund these priorities, the proposed budget realigned $2.4 billion from lower priority programs. As part of the "night court" process that shifted funds to modernization efforts, the Army eliminated 41 programs and reduced or delayed 39 programs not tied to modernization or the National Defense Strategy across the fiscal 2021-2025 budget plan.

"I believe we have made the most difficult choices that were presented to us at the time to get to the greatest reform number that we could [get]," Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, director of the Army budget, said Tuesday during a budget briefing at the Pentagon.

The total budget proposal is $178 billion, about $2 billion less than this fiscal year's enacted budget.

Within it, the procurement budget request is $24 billion, about $1 billion less than this year.

Some of the new equipment to be procured includes $906 million for over 40,000 Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems, a heads-up display designed to increase situational awareness in combat and for training.

"The 40,000 is part of the roughly 100,000 [for] close combat forces," Chamberlain said. "It begins nearly 40 percent of the fielding toward those forces."

The request also aims to accelerate the modernization of Stryker brigade combat teams with nearly $850 million for upgrades, including the exchange of over 154 flat-bottom hull vehicles to double V-hull vehicles.

Another $1 billion is also planned to upgrade about 89 M1 Abrams tanks, and nearly $500 million will convert over 73 Bradley vehicles into a new configuration.

The Army's fiscal 2021 budget request now awaits approval from Congress.

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