The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) on Wednesday approved a series of amendments to its proposal for the next defense policy bill looking to increase oversight of ongoing unmanned capability efforts, including logistics drones and autonomous, as well as the Air Force’s push to grow to 386 squadrons.
The amendments from the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee will now be included in HASC’s $733 billion proposal for the FY ’20 National Defense Authorization Act.
“The committee notes the Army is researching technologies that will protect and harden communication networks in contested environments, but is concerned about the integration of these systems relative to the maturity of remotely-piloted vehicles like the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle and the Robotic Combat Vehicle,” Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) wrote in his amendment
Mitchell’s amendment directs the Army Secretary to provide a briefing to HASC by the end of September on the service’s efforts to develop technologies to secure control of unmanned vehicles in contested environments.
Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) included an amendment for the Air Force to provide Congress a report by March 2020 on full infrastructure and personnel requirements needed to reach its goal of growing from 312 to 386 squadrons.
“The committee is concerned that the requirement for 386 operational squadrons as illustrated in the assessment will only be realized through the alignment of resources to these requirements through future Air Force budgets and encourages the Air Force to develop a more comprehensive analysis that would fully integrate planning for 386 operational squadrons into future budgets,” Bacon wrote.
An amendment from Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) calls for the Pentagon to provide insight on its ongoing project to develop drones to handle distributed military logistics.
The under secretary of defense for research and engineering would be required to provide a report by February 2020 on Defense Innovation Unit’s work to find commercial drone solutions capable of delivering “critical, life-saving supplies like blood and medical products to military units in combat zones.”
“The committee supports the continued development and expansion of autonomous distribution systems for these efforts to move faster, reduce costs, and ultimately save lives,” Speier wrote in her amendment. “The report shall include a summary of any prototyping efforts and an assessment of all missions and requirements that could be met through autonomous distribution technologies.”
Additional amendments approved Wednesday include a requested strategy from the Army on its development of vehicle active protection systems, including a look at considering “hybrid” solutions, and a directive to add radar evaluations as a component for the development of the service’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability.
HASC lawmakers continued marking their proposal past deadline with plans to discuss a space force proposal and an amendment from Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to increase the topline to $750 billion.