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Pentagon budget 2021: US Army zeros out funding for Bradley active protection system

11 February 2020
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A M2A3 Bradley from 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment manoeuvres during a company combined arms live-fire exercise at Fort Stewart, Georgia, in February 2017. The US Army has now cancelled a solicitation to outfit its Bradley fleet with an active protection system. Source: US Army

Congressional cuts to the US Army's A4 Bradley line this year forced the service to cancel its active protection system (APS) solicitation and halt plans to outfit the platform with Elbit Systems' Iron Fist Light Decoupled (IF-LD).

Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Johnson, the army's Bradley programme manager, spoke with Jane's on 11 February about difficult budgetary decisions facing his programme after the fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) Consolidated Appropriations Act stripped dollars from the vehicle line. This reduction then forced the service to decide where to make cuts and it opted to cancel its Bradley APS solicitation in late January. As a result, the service will not meet its 2021 first unit equipped date.

"While the requirement has not been cancelled, we did pull the solicitation. [and] due to impacts of the FY 2020 [appropriations bill] we needed to push procurement of the system," he explained. "Our original plan was very aggressive, where we were going to test and produce the systems simultaneously in an effort to meet our first unit equipped date in fourth quarter 2021, but due to the funding impact to the Bradley programme, we have had to go back and re-evaluate our schedule."

Beyond the enacted FY 2020 spending bill, however, the army's newly released FY 2021 budget request also zeroes out funding for outfitting the Bradley with an APS. "No there is not production dollars identified [in the budget] for Iron Fist on Bradley," Lt Col Johnson said, adding that he is "working diligently" with the army staff to find a way ahead.

For decades, though, army leaders have been working to outfit their fleet of ground combat vehicles with APS technologies to counter threats such as anti-tank guided missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, but have stumbled along the way.

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