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Pentagon budget 2024: US Army slows some legacy platform upgrades

US Soldiers in an M1 Abrams tank compete in the Strong Europe Tank Challenge at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, in June 2018. The US Army will enhance 34 of its Abrams MBTs to the System Enhancement Package (SEP) v3 configuration if its FY 2024 budget request is enacted. (US Army )

If enacted, the US Army's budget request would cut ground vehicles out of enduring programmes and reinvest in procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) for newer programmes, according to budget documents released on 13 March.

The US Army's total request for tracked combat vehicles went up from USD740 million to USD949 million for FY 2024, while modifications for tracked combat vehicles slumped from USD3.2 billion to USD2.3 billion.

The M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) upgrade programme, with a request for USD800.3 million for 34 vehicles, is down from the USD1.1 billion lawmakers authorised for the service in FY 2023. The army proposed cuts for the programme last year, but lawmakers increased the amount of funding in the final defence appropriations.

The modernised tank variants will have newer turret and hull armour for enhanced survivability, as well as upgrades to the automotive power pack, computer systems, and night-vision systems. Congress approved spending for upgrades to 90 tanks for FY 2023.

Proposed spending for the programme comes after the US pledged to send 31 Abrams to Ukraine, but US Under Secretary for Army Gabe Camarillo said those tanks promised to Ukraine are not part of the 34 in the request.

β€œWe have not used the FY [20]24 budget submission as a means to indicate how we're going to source the requirements for Ukraine,” he said. β€œAll of the options are being looked at right now.”

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