The Army’s process of shifting $33 billion in funds from legacy programs, such as the CH-47 Chinook and Bradley fighting vehicle, to its future weapon system is setting the service up to push from prototyping to procurement for many of its future weapon systems beginning in fiscal year 2023 or the middle of the Future Years Defense Program, a senior official said Wednesday.
Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy told attendees at the McAleese Conference the process of putting together the Army’s FY ’20 budget request, released Tuesday, allowed the service to better formalize program details for future programs, including Next-Generation Combat Vehicle and Long-Range Precision Fires, after shifting an additional $33 billion toward modernization.
“We’ve synchronized the buys, if you will, with the divestment portfolios. Whether it’s in the armored vehicles or helicopters, in the backend of the [Future Years Defense Program] you’ll see the synchronization with new weapons systems being brought on with formations,” McCarthy said.
The Army’s budget documents confirmed officials had cut 93 programs and downgraded another 93 to shift $33 billion toward modernization over the next five years, bringing the total amount to $57 billion, for the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP).
Long-Range Precision Fires remains the Army’s top modernization priority with plans to increase investments in the middle of the FYDP around FY ’22 or ’23 to procure capabilities with extended ranges.
“The Long-Range Precision Fire portfolio is clearly something where we would need the scale and volume to compete against a near-peer,” McCarthy said. “There’s tremendous capability that exists. We’re going to make some vast investments in this FYDP on hypersonics and put a lot more energy in that effort, which has been on and off over the last 10 or 15 years.”
The Army is looking to field four batteries for the Extended Range Cannon Artillery Program in FY ’22, with the goal of extending current range capacity out to 100 kilometers.
McCarthy added the Precision Strike Missile program under LRPF will also move into procurement between the end of FY ’22 and the first quarter of FY ’23.
Procurement efforts for Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the Bradley replacement and Mobile Protected Firepower, the Army’s next light tank, will likely arrive at the tail end of the FYDP in FY ’25 and ’26, according to McCarthy.
“That’s when you’re going to be in the heart of that experiment test towards the backend [of the FYDP]. You’ll see the funding really go up. We’ll be buying tranches of capability and testing it out,” McCarthy said.
Shifts over to modernization will lead to “substantial funding” for Future Vertical Lift programs, including armed reconnaissance aircraft and future assault helicopter, and Integrated Air Missile Defense programs around FY ’22, according to McCarthy.
“These programs all hit in the middle and backend of the program, but there’s a steady rise as you go from 2021 and then it really picks up,” McCarthy said. “So increases this year, but the pipes really start to open up by the middle of the FYDP.”
The initial budget documents offered few details on which legacy systems would face cuts in the out years to fund modernization efforts, but Lt. Gen James Pasquarette, the G-8 deputy chief of staff, confirmed that funds have been shifted away from programs such as CH-47 Chinook and Bradley fighting vehicles.
Upgrades to Bradley fighting vehicles are set to end after the Army purchases five more sets of the Bradley A4 before moving that funding over to Next-Generation Combat Vehicle in 2022, according to Pasquarette.
“We couldn’t afford to be building Bradleys while also producing the Next-Gen Combat Vehicle,” Pasquarette said.
For the Chinook helicopter, McCarthy said the Army has included plans to purchase CH-47 Block IIs in its FY ’20 request but for FY ’21 will only look to procure the SOCOM variants.
“This portfolio has a vast investment between Black Hawk, Chinook, that it’s going to start to really compress the portfolio’s ability to continue to finance to keep all these assets in the system,” McCarthy said. “We went through and did a thorough exercise on the aviation portfolio, and we have 10 percent more Chinooks today than we need. So we continue through the buy on the FY ’20 for the conventional force, but we’re only buying SOCOM Chinooks in the out years.”