Military Capabilities

US Army identifies USD31.5 billion to siphon towards modernisation, targets legacy weapons

26 February 2019

The US Army is prepared to request an array of cuts to legacy programmes to pay for modernisation ones. The pictured Sikorsky S-97 Raider is in consideration for the services’ Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft Competitive Prototype initiative. Source: Sikorsky

Without naming names, the US Army Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy said the department will largely pull USD31.5 billion from legacy platform coffers to help pay for its six modernisation initiatives to prepare for a potential conflict with Russia and China.

During a 26 February Association of the US Army breakfast, McCarthy broadly discussed the delayed fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget request, upcoming challenges facing the service as they make their case to Congress and the ongoing, second "night court" round to determine additional cuts down the road.

"We are trying to enable the National Defense Strategy and we've taken some pretty dramatic steps to get there," McCarthy told the audience.

In recent months, army leadership has publicly said that they have identified at least USD25 billion in savings over the next five years, largely through curtailing or cutting programmes. However, the figure is just over USD31.5 billion, with at least USD22 billion derived from cuts and terminations, and an additional USD8 billion coming in the form of "cost avoidance", McCarthy explained.

While he declined to pinpoint which weapon systems have been targeted, he noted that the service is proposing cuts to legacy weapons systems to pay for its six prized modernisation priorities: Long-Range Precision Fires, the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV), Future Vertical Lift (FVL), networking, air and missile defence, and soldier lethality.

"You'll see where the cuts and terminations are if you read the modernisation strategy," McCarthy told the audience.

Potential cuts include a host of programmes from the service's CH-47 Chinook Block II upgrade to combat vehicles including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Freed-up funds will then be largely invested in the development of the six priorities, while the service will also invest in key "enablers" such as integrated missile defence and additional M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System batteries, McCarthy added.

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