The Senate Appropriations Committee’s proposed fiscal year 2022 defense spending bill includes cutting procurement for the Army’s new Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headset by $779 million amid the service’s decision to delay the program to solve technical issues.

The bill also includes transferring another $75 million from IVAS procurement to the Army’s research, development, test and evaluation account to help address IVAS challenges.

The Army conducted its third soldier touchpoint for the Integrated Visual Augmentation System at Ft. Pickett in Virginia. Photo: U.S. Army.

Lawmakers note the Army reached out to the committee on its decision to delay initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) for IVAS from late FY ‘21 to May 2022 after the latest soldier touchpoint demonstration highlighted “technical challenges with both software and hardware.”

“As a result, the Army is currently conducting a robust program assessment and has indicated that it intends to provide Congress an updated development plan along with new production laydown in the coming months,” the panel wrote in an explanatory statement accompanying its bill.

The Army last week confirmed it had delayed the timeline out to next year for the Microsoft [MSFT]-built IVAS to allow for additional time to make adjustments to the system, moving the first equipped date out to September 2022 (Defense Daily, Oct. 14). 

“The committee understands the Army remains committed to the program and is committed to seeing the technical challenges resolved prior to fielding IVAS to operational units,” lawmakers wrote. “Prior year procurement funding remains available should the Army be able to reach a production decision based on the results of future test events.”

The president’s FY ‘22 budget request had included $854 million for IVAS procurement, which was set to follow completion of the original IOT&E date and a full-rate production decision in late FY ‘21, as well as an additional $16.6 million for research and development efforts. 

In late March, the Army awarded Microsoft a deal worth up to $21.9 billion over the next 10 years to move the IVAS program from rapid prototyping into production (Defense Daily, March 31).

The Department of Defense’s inspector general is conducting an audit of the IVAS program starting this month, and lead Army officials confirmed Monday there have been challenges with the system’s waveguide technology that was causing resolution issues for soldiers (Defense Daily, Oct. 18). 

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s bill also directs the Army’s Program Executive Office-Soldier to provide a revised development plan for IVAS no later than 30 days after the bill’s passage, to include updated resourcing requirements to address technological challenges. 

Senate Democrats unveiled their $726 billion FY ‘22 defense appropriations bill on Monday, which drew a quick rebuke from GOP lawmakers over the five percent increase in military spending relative to the 13 percent boost in non-defense spending across other bills (Defense Daily, Oct. 18).