The full report of House appropriators’ fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill, released Monday, details plans to meet the Army’s $12 billion research and development request, while adjusting certain funds to push for high energy laser and advanced vehicle technology work.
The bill aligns with recent bipartisan support for the Army’s modernization reform effort to find $33 billion cut from lower priorities to fund development of future weapon systems, with plans to spend to $57 billion on modernization programs over the next five years.
House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee lawmakers proposed a $12.05 billion research, development, test & evaluation for the Army in their FY ’20 budget, about $146 million less than the service’s request.
The proposed budget would meet Army development funding requests for its top priorities, including $427.3 million toward the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft, $378.4 million for the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) and $428.4 million for Long Range Precision Fires.
Lawmakers did, however, adjust funding across several RDT&E priorities from the Army’s original request, specifically increasing programs to go after advanced technologies.
The bill includes an additional $27 million for NGCV applied research, up to $246 million, toward “prototyping energy smart autonomous ground systems, high performance polymers, highly electrified vehicles, additive metals manufacturing.”
From the Army’s original request, appropriators also added $55 million to total $215 million for NGCV advanced technology, including hydrogen fuel cells and “additive manufacturing of critical components.”
Long-Range Precision Fires, the Army’s top modernization priority, would receive an additional $18 million from the additional request, up to $92.3 million, toward applied research into composite cannon tubes, hybrid project technology and high energy lasers.
Laser technology was also a focus for air and missile defense funding, with lawmakers allocating $72.8 million, an additional $22 million above the Army’s original request.
The Army has already tapped a team of Dynetics and Lockheed Martin [LMT] to deliver a technology demonstrator of a 100-kilowatt laser by August 2022 (Defense Daily, May 16).
For the Army’s tactical network modernization program, appropriators included an additional $18 million to account for an increase in research on SATCOM technology.
Two research and development programs, however, did face reductions for “demonstration and validation.” Both the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) and the Synthetic Training Environment would receive $25 million cuts as a result of “excess funding” in the original Army request.
Lawmakers also reduced the Army’s request for LTAMDS operational systems development by $10 million down to $97.7 million.