As the Army soon heads into the fiscal year 2023 budget cycle, the service’s top uniformed official reiterated Tuesday that there are no plans to change modernization priorities and reaffirmed commitment to several ongoing major acquisition efforts.
“Those priorities have not changed, just for everyone in industry,” Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff, said during an Associated of the United States Army event. “Continue to invest in those priorities. They are not changing.”
“We remain committed to developing the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. We remain committed to developing the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft. And we remain committed to developing the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft. They’re not going to be fielding in ‘23. They’re going to take a little more time than that. But that’s long-term modernization that we see in the Army,” McConville added during his address.
McConville’s remarks arrive as defense experts and think tanks have assessed potential program cuts and adjustments that could be made across the services if the president’s upcoming budget request presents a more fiscally constrained spending picture.
Last month, McConville also said that while the Army does not plan to change its six modernization priorities it may consider the possibility of cuts to the more than 30 programs supporting each of those areas if future resources are constrained (Defense Daily, Feb. 10).
The Army’s modernization agenda is focused around developing “31+4” signature systems across those six priorities: integrated air and missile defense, long-range precision fires, future vertical, next-generation combat vehicles, soldier lethality and the tactical network.
“We are putting a tremendous amount of work into doing deep dives into everything that is going on because, as the secretary has said, everything is on the table. And what we’re going to do is try to deliver the best Army we can with the resources we get. So we’re looking hard at everything. At the end of the day, we’re going to keep the momentum going on modernization,” McConville said on Tuesday.
McConville noted that 24 of the Army’s signature modernization systems will be delivered in 2023, noting that’s likely in small quantities for many instances as programs continue through testing and potentially ramp up toward production.
“Think about long range hypersonic missiles, we’re going to field the first battery next year in [FY] ‘23. Mid-range [missile] capability, we’re going to field that battery next year in ‘23 and we’ll be able to sink ships. [Precision] Strike Missile system, again, we’re fielding that in ‘23. Mobile Protected Firepower, we’re fielding that in ‘23. Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Mobile SHORAD, IVAS, Next-Generation Squad Weapon and a whole bunch of other systems, we are fielding in ‘23,” McConville said.
Doug Bush, the Army’s new acquisition executive, told reporters last month he believes the service can secure additional funding for its modernization portfolio if it shows Congress early success transitioning new weapon systems from prototyping into production (Defense Daily, Feb. 17).