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Gear: 'Tough decisions' await the Army

Oct. 28, 2013 - 03:09PM   |  
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle could face a one-year delay.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle could face a one-year delay. (OshKosh)

The Army needs to fix or replace a lot of gear. It needs to modernize a lot of gear. It needs to buy new gear.

The Army needs to fix or replace a lot of gear. It needs to modernize a lot of gear. It needs to buy new gear.

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The Army needs to fix or replace a lot of gear. It needs to modernize a lot of gear. It needs to buy new gear.

And “the bottom line is, we can’t afford all of it,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Some programs will be reduced. Others will be eliminated, Odierno said, though neither he nor Army Secretary John McHugh was willing to name specific programs. Some of those answers will likely emerge this year. The chief is leading Quadrennial Defense Review meetings where future strategies and budgets are balanced as best they can be.

More than 192 Army programs will be canceled, restructured or delayed if sequestration continues, said Heidi Shyu, the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. She told the House Armed Services Committee that ongoing budget uncertainty is putting the nation at risk.

“Our capacity to maintain expertise in science and technology, engineering, contracting, cost estimation [and] logistics are all at risk because one of the most attractive benefits to the government employee — the stability — has been undermined,” she said.

The service in fiscal 2013 had a $5.5 billion shortfall due to sequestration. Belt tightening prevented the planned purchase of double-V hulled Strykers and Apaches, and also cut unit training and flying hours.

Specific programs at risk include the Ground Combat Vehicle, Armed Aerial Scout, unmanned aerial vehicle system upgrades, air defense command-and-control system modernization and upgrades to the Abrams tank and Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle could see a one-year delay.

Aviation programs will bear the brunt. The purchase of 12 AH-64E Apaches would be canceled, bringing the total to 20 axed in two years. And 11 CH-47 Chinooks would not be bought. That would put the Army in danger of losing the production contracts entirely, which could cost $77 million in termination liabilities and boost costs by $1.4 billion.

The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act includes $5.2 billion for aircraft. Nearly $760 million will go toward Apache procurement, while $96 million will buy the final 10 UH-72 Light Utility Helicopters. This will bring the total purchase to 315 aircraft instead of the 346 originally planned.

Aircraft will consume $772 million, or one-third of the planned 2014 overseas contingency operations procurement. The AH-64 Apache Block IIIb (new build) doubled from 2013 to $142 million, while OH-58F Kiowa Warrior wartime replacement aircraft funds will drop from $183 million to $163.8 million.

The NDAA would provide $16 billion for Army procurement. That bill awaits Senate approval and the president’s signature. The amount represents a $1 billion cut from 2013, which saw a $1.7 billion procurement drop from the previous year.

The Army does not yet know how much money it will have to reset gear coming out of theater. The service planned $4 billion worth of reset in fiscal 2013, but funding was cut by about $1.7 billion. The cut meant delaying until fiscal 2014 repairs that would bring 800 vehicles, 2,000 weapons, 10,000 pieces of comms gear and 32 helicopters to near zero hours/zero miles.

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