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Pentagon budget 2023: Army banking on IVAS, cuts night vision programmes

US Army soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division use an IVAS prototype during a trench clearing exercise in October 2020 at Fort Pickett in Virginia. (US Army )

US Army leadership does not want to buy additional Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular (ENVG-B) in 2023 but does plan to acquire Microsoft's militarised HoloLens 2 augmented reality (AR) system if technical problems have been fixed, service officials told reporters on 29 March.

The army's fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request includes USD424 million to buy “night-vision devices” next year, with USD400 million from that pot earmarked to purchase 7,272 Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (IVASs), according to Brigadier General Michael McCurry, the director of force development, and a subsequent email to reporters.

Based on these numbers, each IVAS unit will cost the army just over USD55,000, a sharp increase over the FY 2022 per unit cost of USD25,490.

Next year’s IVAS procurement plan is significantly less than the USD854 million army leadership requested to spend on buying the heads-up display in 2022. This 2022 request was made before the service postponed fielding the devices due to software and hardware problems. Lawmakers, in turn, cut USD394 million from the IVAS procurement coffer.

Since the Pentagon has not released its budget justification documents, which are anticipated to include five-year spending plans, it is not clear when the army intends to ramp up IVAS procurement spending.

The FY 2023 request also includes USD64.6 million to develop the next IVAS prototype and buy 270 units of this “1.2 version” for testing and development, the army told reporters on 30 March.

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