The Senate Armed Services Committee is pressing the Army to provide its acquisition strategies for night vision devices and its tactical wheeled vehicle fleet, with the latter not having been updated since 2014. 

The directives are included in the bill report released Tuesday accompanying SASC’s version of the $886 billion fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which the committee voted to approve last month.

U..S. Army soldiers assigned to 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, experiment with the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) on Oct. 14 as part of Project Convergence 22 (U.S. Army Photo)

For night vision devices, SASC calls for a provision directing the Army Secretary to deliver a report by the end of February 2024 detailing requirements and acquisition plans, likely to focus on the service’s Enhanced Night Vision Goggles-Binocular (ENVG-B) and Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) programs. 

“The committee remains supportive of the Army’s significant investment in modernized night vision capabilities that support requirements for large scale combat operations in multi-domain operations. However, the committee has been concerned that the Army’s narrow focus has not sufficiently accounted for the appropriate mix of night vision capabilities across formations,” the committee writes in its bill report. 

Members of SASC, such as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), have previously pressed Army officials during hearings about plans to balance procurement plans for ENVG-B and IVAS, with the service not requesting funding for the former in its recent budget requests.

L3Harris Technologies [LHX], which produces the ENVG-B system in Shaheen’s home state, and Elbit Systems of America each received production deals from the Army in October 2020 worth potentially $442 million to deliver the new night vision devices to begin replacing its legacy monocular night vision devices.

Meanwhile, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth has said the service will “move on” from the Microsoft [MSFT]-built IVAS if the company’s work developing the new “1.2” upgraded version of the headset is unsuccessful (Defense Daily, May 2). 

“[ENVG-B] is a very good system. Our soldiers like it and they’re very comfortable with it. I think, one, we have a finite amount of resources that we can apply to modernization, so we are having to make choices,” Wormuth said during a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee hearing in May. “What we’re trying to do with ENVG-B and IVAS is strike a balance. IVAS, as I know you know, does more than what the [night vision] goggles do. It is a system that allows our soldiers to train, rehearse and then fight in a synthetic training environment.”

Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo told reporters in January he expects the service’s new night vision strategy to be completed sometime in 2023, with SASC noting its intended to “guide refinement of procurement objectives, acquisition strategies, and the overarching night vision device funding strategy” (Defense Daily, Jan. 13). 

For the tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) fleet, SASC has included a directive that would require the Army to update its strategy every five years beginning with the service’s FY ‘25 budget request submission.

“The committee is concerned that the Army has not formally updated its TWV strategy since 2014. A recurring update would help both the Army and industry plan for future requirements, periodically assess current TWV capability and capacity to support Army requirements as defined by the governing National Defense Strategy, and more consistently identify commercially available improvements to the current Army fleet,” the committee writes in the bill report.

SASC notes the strategy would align with the Army’s recent major efforts in the TWV space, which includes selecting AM General as the new manufacturer for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, continuing fielding of the new GM Defense [GM]-built Infantry Squad Vehicle and initiating the Common Tactical Truck competition to find a replacement for the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV) truck fleet, currently built by Oshkosh Defense [OSK].

“A recurring and holistic review across all platforms will improve the Army’s ability to manage its TWV fleet into the future,” the committee writes.

Col. Beth Behn, the service’s chief of transportation, told attendees at NDIA’s TWV conference in Columbus, Ohio in late February the Army’s new TWV strategy will be submitted for senior leaders’ review and approval around November (Defense Daily, March 3). 

“My charge is to have that strategy developed and handed to Army senior leaders before the holidays, so that they’ve got time to consider that heading into the [Program Objective Memorandum] offsite in January ‘24,” Behn said at the time.