WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has sent to Congress a request to shift around roughly $378 million in fiscal 2018 funding to pay for major modernization efforts teed up for rapid development now and in the coming years.
According to a June 2018 Defense Department reprogramming request, the Army is taking its FY18 funding and aligning it with efforts to increase soldier lethality, revamp its tactical network and develop prototypes for future combat vehicles and long-range precision fires capabilities.
The Army has established a new four-star command — Army Futures Command — that will tackle its most pressing modernization priorities. The service has declared six top priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air and missile defense, and soldier lethality.
The AFC will be based in Austin, Texas, but has already established cross-functional teams placed strategically at various forts and bases around the country that will each tackle a priority on the list.
Earlier this year, each CFT unveiled ambitious plans to rapidly prototype and develop capabilities within their respective portfolios, but those plans will require money, and soon.
The reprogramming makes sense, as the Army did not have a clear picture of many of the development and prototyping efforts needed to rapidly address modernization priorities at the time the FY18 budget was formulated. And while the FY19 budget has some efforts funded, it’s likely the Army will need to reprogram additional money to meet goals set by the command’s CFTs.
The service would like to shift around a total of $136.2 million in FY18 budget funding to projects that would accelerate prototyping and development of a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, according to the document.
Within that, the Army needs $98.6 million to produce three sets of experimental prototypes of an NGCV Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) that will take part in operational experiments for manned-unmanned teaming evaluations and “the applicability of two man crew (2MC) to achieve overmatch in the future fight,” the reprogramming document states.
The money will be used to accelerate the building of the vehicles as well as ensure these vehicles have full mission equipment packages, additional sensors and an optionally manned capability, according to the document.
Funding also covers the development and integration of Artificial Intelligence Terrain Recognition architecture, Hostile Fire Detection Localization camera and sensor and the acquisition and integration of the 3rd generation FLIR prototype sensors as well as an evolving a pre-shot detection sensor from single-band to multi-band.
An additional $37.6 million would cover funding associated with soliciting proposals and competitive source selection for NGCV to include sample testing of “vendor- proposed articles” in preparation for the program to enter an engineering and manufacturing development phase.
The Army plans to spend an additional $10 million on the effort in FY19, $333.6 million in FY20, $320 million in FY21, $218.7 million in FY22 and 65.7 million in FY23.
The service also notes that additional FY19 funding will be submitted in future reprogramming requests.
To meet the needs of the Army’s top modernization priority — Long-Range Precision Fires — the service needs an additional $46 million for its Deep Strike Cannon Artillery effort that is part of LRPF modernization.
“The accelerated project objective aims to develop long range armament technologies for weapons to support potential deep strike capabilities from future cannon artillery systems,” the document reads.
The funding will enable technology development and a series of engineering demonstrations through completion in FY22.
The Army also plans to spend $105 million in FY19 on the new start effort, $106 million in FY20, $73 million in FY21 and $62 million in FY22 for a total of $392 million. And like for NGCV, additional dollars for FY19 will be asked for through future reprogramming requests.
Falling in the air-and-missile defense modernization priority bucket is an effort to fill an urgent capability gap identified in the European theater -- Short-Range Air Defense or SHORAD.
The Army is asking to reprogram $50 million in FY18 to cover the procurement, hardware and pay for integration efforts for an additional 12 prototypes for the Interim Manuever-SHORAD (IM-SHORAD) system.
“This additional funding will enable the Army to meet its objective of fielding a battery-sized unit of IM-SHORAD in the 4th quarter of FY 2020,” according to the reprogramming request.
The Army has also made drastic moves in the past year to create a technologically superior and functional tactical network, canceling or shelving aspects of the network that failed to address the real possibility of operating against near-peer adversaries.
Now the service is asking for $12.2 million to procure Nett Warrior, the network range extension and interoperability gateway system components for an Infantry Brigade Combat Team “in order to assess the scalability of an integrated tactical network (ITN),” the document.
According to the request, the equipment will support the April 2019 assessment at the Joint Readiness Training Center.
While not an individual modernization priority, the Army is focused on developing a Synthetic Training Environment that spans across the modernization efforts. The Army has even formed a special CFT to move the effort along.
A total of $17.9 million is needed to develop the STE. “This capability is critical to improve squad combat readiness, the fundamental building blocks of dismounted combat power,” the request reads.
The service also wants $10.6 million for prototyping efforts to develop “critical requirements and concepts” for the STE architecture, training management tools and training simulation services, according to the request.
Prototyping and test efforts will be completed in FY18 and will “shape key system specific requirements in order to support the transition into a program of record in FY 2020,” the document states.
The Army is requesting to reprogram $104.6 million to procure 3,609 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle - Binocular (ENVG-B) systems to support an operational needs statement from Army Forces Command. New night vision goggles is one the earliest efforts within the Soldier Lethality CFT.
To pay for those new systems, the Army is cutting the funding — in the same amount — from the acquisition of a monocular night vision system, the request notes.
While not a part of the Army’s six modernization priorities, the service is also reprogramming roughly $190.3 million in FY18 funding to support a Defense Secretary Jim Mattis-directed task force designed to overhaul the infantry officially dubbed the Close Combat Lethality Task Force. There is some overlap in the funding with AFC modernization efforts.
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.