The Army Future Vertical Lift program is “absolutely fundamental” to the service’s ability to execute maneuver warfare against a near peer threat, like Russian and Chinese forces, Army  Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Apr. 9 during a hearing on the Army’s FY 2020 budget request.

Milley was responding to a question from Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), ranking member of the panel, who said that the Army’s planned $800 million investment in FVL in FY 2020 and $7 billion over the Future Years Defense Plan indicate that the Army is moving “extremely aggressively” on FVL at the expense of existing programs, such as upgrades for the Boeing [BA] CH-47 helicopter fleet. Calvert asked how important FVL would be in a war against a near peer threat.

Milley said that FVL would help restore the U.S. Army’s dominance in ground maneuver, as FVL promises to double the range, speed, lethality, and survivability of current Army helicopters, like the Sikorsky [LMT] UH-60 Black Hawk and the Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.

Over the FYDP, the Army plans to eliminate or cut 186 programs worth about $30 billion to fund its six modernization priorities, which include 31 programs. Army Secretary Mark Esper told the House panel that the service arrived at its decisions on program cuts after 50 hours of deliberations.

Long Range Precision Fires is the top modernization priority, followed by the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, which Army leaders say is necessary to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

“If we don’t modernize now, I don’t know when we will,” Esper said of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle.

Esper and Milley said that the Army Futures Command is a wholesale reform of the service’s acquisition process, as the command represents “unity of effort and unity of command.”

Army Gen. Mike Murray, the head of the command, is “squarely” responsible for future Army procurement efforts.

“He’s driving the entire requirements process,” Esper said.