|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||May 27, 2017 07:21 PM EDT|
(Photo : US Army) ATacMS launch
The U.S. Army's top modernization priorities are focused on boosting its thin advantage in conventional combat against Russia and China after over a decade of counterinsurgency campaigns in the Middle East.
Weapons that inflict long-range destruction abound in the army's fiscal year 2018 budget request. These include the army's long neglected surface-to-air missile defenses and weapons capable of long-range fires.
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Taken together, these weapons included in the army's $26.8 billion funding request seek to recapture the army's capability to conduct large-scale, conventional, all arms military operations against Russia and China.
Restoring the army's air defense capability will be necessary when the U.S. and NATO fight to destroy Russian forces that might invade Eastern Europe over the next 10 years.
The Army has requested a 2018 budget for air defense that's $600 million larger than the total enacted in fiscal year 2017 for modernization, said Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, Director for the Army budget.
Gen. Horlander, however, said much of the modernization funding in FY18 will be spent on research and development rather than on procuring more modern equipment.
"The Army is accepting risk in developing new capabilities in order to prioritize incremental upgrades in air and ground systems so we can put in the hands of our soldiers in the near term a greater and more lethal capability," he said.
The army's the top modernization priorities include:
* Strengthening short-range air defense (SHORAD) by acquiring 131 MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. The army will also procure more AN/TWQ-1 Avenger Air Defense Systems.
Avenger is a self-propelled SAM system that provides mobile, short-range air defense protection for ground units against cruise missiles, UAVs, low-flying fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
Mounted on a modified Humvee, an Avenger system can carry from four to eight FIM-92 Stinger missiles.
* Investing in a Stinger Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS) product improvement program and a Patriot product improvement program related to software upgrades.
* Developing a long-range fires capability by funding three key fires systems: a service life extension program for 121 expired Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATacMS); acquisition of 6,000 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) and continued low-rate initial production of 93 Patriot Missile Segment Enhanced missiles.
* Funding a next-generation common, low-drag, guided, hypervelocity (HPV) cannon artillery projectile.
* Boosting the army's stockpile of munitions by requesting funds for the production of 88,000 unguided Hydra 70 rockets and 480 M982 Excalibur GPS-guided 155 mm rounds.
The funds will also go to replenishing and modernizing industrial facilities that make ammunition to improve munitions production; replace depleted stocks and create capacity for increased future demand.
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