To Become More Lethal, The U.S. Army Is Cutting Old Programs

To Become More Lethal, The U.S. Army Is Cutting Old Programs

David Axe


Out with the old, in with the new.

Key point: The Army wants to prioritize six new kinds of hardware.

The U.S. Army is slowing, cutting and canceling hundreds of weapons programs in order to free up cash for just six kinds of new hardware.

The “Big Six” are key to winning high-tech wars against modern armies such as Russia’s or China’s, according to the ground-combat branch.

The Army’s $190-billion budget proposal, which represents an $8-billion boost compared to the branch’s 2019 budget, channels $9 billion into six main efforts.

The highest-priority category is Long-Range Precision Fires or LRPF. In other words, artillery and ground-to-ground rockets. In 2020 the Army wants to spend $1.3 billion improving its howitzers and rocket launchers and developing new, longer-range munitions.

Howitzers are getting longer barrels to boost their firing range plus new, father-flying shells. Rocket launchers are getting new, longer-range munitions, potentially including some with anti-ship capability.

Next in line is Next-Generation Combat Vehicles or NGCV. Tanks and fighting vehicles. The Army in 2020 wants to spend $2 billion developing NGCV. The new vehicles eventually would replace the Cold War-vintage M-2 fighting vehicle and potentially the M-1 tank, as well.

The Army has tried and failed at least twice to develop a replacement for the M-2. One attempt ended with the 2009 collapse of the overly-complex Future Combat Systems program. The other failed in 2014 on account of its ballooning weight.

After NGCV there’s Future Vertical Lift, an initiative to develop a new, high-speed aircraft to replace existing UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters plus a separate attack and reconnaissance aircraft to fill the gap left by the Army’s failure to develop a replacement for the now-retired OH-58D scout helicopter. The twin aviation efforts would get $800 million in 2020.

The Army’s fourth priority is its communications network, which would tie together all the other forces and would get $2.3 billion in 2020.

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