U.S. Budget constraints to delay aircraft modernization

WASHINGTON — Some mod­ern­iza­tion pro­grams may be delayed, but not reduced or can­celled due to a tight­en­ing of the bud­get, senior Army lead­ers told sen­a­tors Wednes­day.

Sec­re­tary of the Army John McHugh responds to a ques­tion from a mem­ber of the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions defense sub­com­mit­tee, Mar. 21, 2012, on Capi­tol Hill. McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no tes­ti­fied before the com­mit­tee on the Defense Autho­riza­tion Request for fis­cal year 2013 and the future year’s defense pro­gram. The two lead­ers told law­mak­ers that bud­get con­straints will delay mod­ern­iza­tion for air­craft such as the Black Hawk UH-60M.
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Army lead­ers on Capi­tol Hill, March 21,2012, told law­mak­ers that bud­get con­straints will delay mod­ern­iza­tion for air­craft such as the Black Hawk UH-60M.
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Sec­re­tary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no tes­ti­fied Wednes­day morn­ing to the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee, sub­com­mit­tee on Defense regard­ing the service’s fis­cal year 2013 bud­get request. 

“We had to slip some of the pro­cure­ment pro­grams to the right,” McHugh told law­mak­ers about the Army’s rotary-wing air­craft fleet. 

Mod­ern­iza­tion of Apache heli­copters is down to 48 per year, Odier­no said. Some CH-47 Chi­nook per­for­mance upgrades will be reduced, he told senators. 

UH-60 Black Hawk mod­ern­iza­tion will be delayed in all com­po­nents. the active force, Army Reserve and Nation­al Guard, Odier­no said. The pro­cure­ment of 72 UH-60M heli­copters will be moved at least six years, out­side the cur­rent Pro­cure­ment Objec­tive Mem­o­ran­dum or POM, he said. 

Upgrades to the Kiowa War­rior have been fund­ed, Odier­no said, but added that may change lat­er this year when a deci­sion is made on whether to pro­cure the Armed Aer­i­al Scout helicopter. 

No final deci­sion has been made on the C‑23 Sher­pa pro­gram, Odier­no said. But he said the Army has some issues with the old­er air­craft that does­n’t quite fill the Army’s require­ment for intra-the­ater transport. 

Mod­ern­iza­tion of the C‑23 is pro­ject­ed to cost $800,000 to $1 mil­lion per air­craft, McHugh said. 

“That pro­gram has some real dol­lars attached to it,” he told senators. 

McHugh explained that the Army had iden­ti­fied a require­ment for intra-the­ater air­lift. The C‑27 Joint Car­go Air­craft pro­gram was one of the solu­tions, he said. The Army had ini­tial­ly planned that pro­gram joint­ly with the Air Force. Then the Air Force assumed full respon­si­bil­i­ty for the pro­gram before decid­ing that the intra-the­ater air­lift could be accom­plished using C‑130s. Odier­no said the Army is work­ing with the Air Force on the requirement. 

Oth­er tech­nolo­gies will be inte­grat­ed into the force incre­men­tal­ly, McHugh said. The Army is mov­ing ahead with devel­op­ment of the Ground Com­bat Vehi­cle, which will replace the Infantry Fight­ing Vehi­cle, he said. 

In devel­op­ing the Joint Light Tac­ti­cal Vehi­cle, or JLTV, the Army saved $400 mil­lion by reduc­ing the cycle from 48 to 33 months, he said. 

McHugh added that one of the most impor­tant mod­ern­iza­tions under­way is the inte­gra­tion of tac­ti­cal net­works. Exer­cis­es at White Sand Mis­sile Range are test­ing equip­ment in a series of Net­work Inte­gra­tion Evaluations. 

U.S. Army 

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