The U.S. Army has released a pair of unfunded priorities lists for FY17 and FY18 calling for $26.5 billion in additional spending. The documents serve as wish lists for items not contained within existing budget plans. The FY17 portion is a revision of a list released in March 2016, and supports end-strength increases contained in the FY17 defense authorization bill.
The FY17 list totals $8.2 billion and supports a 476,000-strong active force as authorized in the latest defense policy bill. For comparison, the Army’s original wish list was valued at $7.4 billion. The revised list includes $2.2 billion for aviation programs, including 14 new-build CH-47F Chinook helicopters (nine more than in the original list), 10 new-build AH-64E Apaches (five more than in the original list), and advance procurement of an additional 10 helicopters, 17 UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters (unchanged), and 12 MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with payloads. This portion of funding would also buy 592,000 unguided rockets. The list does not appear to include the UH-60M contained in the original wish list, but the Black Hawk fleet is addressed in the FY18 wish list.
Armor formations receive an additional $1.8 billion in the new FY17 list. The Army wants to accelerate M1 Abrams tank production by two battalion sets; this effort would recapitalize an additional 52 M1A1 tanks to the M1A2 SEPv3 configuration. Bradley production would be accelerated by one cavalry squadron set, with 41 M2A2 ODS vehicles being upgraded to the M2A4 configuration. The Army would complete a fourth brigade set of upgraded double-V hull Strykers, and accelerate production of 18 M88A2 Hercules recovery vehicles, two more than called for in the original list. The additional funding would also procure battalion mortar capability for three armored brigade combat teams, and support the development of a 30mm gun for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle fleet.
Another $1.3 billion would support air defense programs through Patriot upgrades, procurement of additional PAC 3 MSE missiles, radar modifications, acceleration of Stinger missile modifications, the provision of funding for installation kits, and modifications of Avenger short-range air defense systems. The Army also wants $500 million for various ammunition and missiles, as well as $300 million for protection and mobility equipment such as assault breacher vehicles and joint assault bridges. Electronic warfare and cyber capabilities would receive an additional $100 million.
Elsewhere, the FY17 list contains $500 million for command and control modernization, $500 million for sustainment, $500 million for installations, $400 million for training, and $100 million for test and evaluation infrastructure.
The release of an FY18 wish list at this time is a break with tradition, as unfunded priorities lists are typically not drafted until after a complete budget has been submitted to Congress. This may be the Army’s way of making a point to the new administration and to Congress that it requires a significant and immediate topline increase to support a larger force. The Army’s FY18 wish list totals a massive $18.3 billion, and would support a larger active force of 490,000 troops. The incoming administration supports increasing the ground force to 540,000 troops. It is important to note that the FY18 unfunded priorities list is based on the draft budget developed under President Barack Obama. The current administration will put its own touch on the FY18 request before it is released, meaning some of the Army’s items may ultimately make their way into the formal budget submission. At that point, a revised wish list may be drafted.
Nearly 40 percent of the FY18 list, worth $7 billion, would be used to increase the size of the Army. The active component would, as indicated above, expand to 490,000 troops by the end of FY18 (36,000 above the FY18 plan). The service would add three armor brigades (one through conversion and two through growth) and one infantry brigade combat team. The plan also adds one corps headquarters and one division headquarters. The extra funding would also support 343,000 troops for the Army National Guard (8,000 above the FY18 plan) and 199,000 for the Army Reserve (4,000 above the FY18 plan). The Guard and Reserve figures are in line with the plus-up in the FY17 defense authorization bill.
The FY18 list includes $2.5 billion for aviation programs, including buying 33 new-build Apaches and modernizing an additional 48 over five years. New-build Apaches had previously been deferred to beyond the current five-year spending plan, while the FY17 budget called for modernizing a total of 475 Apaches through FY21. The Army would also accelerate UH-60 Black Hawk modernization, upgrade its entire Gray Eagle fleet with advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sensors, and invest in aircraft survivability equipment.
The Army seeks another $2.5 billion for armor, which would double modernization efforts for the Abrams, Bradley, and Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle programs and increase resources for heavy equipment transporters, bridges, and recovery and active protection systems. The service asks for $1.5 billion for ammunition and missiles, with a goal of being able to “procure enough fires capacity in five years to set three theaters” – U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, and Korea. The funding would support a Service Life Extension Program for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), an upgrade program for Guided Multiple Rocket Launch Systems, and smart artillery. The wish list also calls for accelerating development of a long-range missile to replace the ATACMS, and for accelerating fielding of M109A7 Paladins.
Air defense programs would receive an additional $1 billion, supporting SHORAD (short-range air defense) and Patriot system upgrades, as well as Stinger missile upgrades and procurement. An additional $800 million would pay for one additional Stryker Brigade Combat Team lethality package per year, and would accelerate the Mobile Protected Firepower light tank program. The Army wants to add $500 million for command and control modernization, which would help support efforts such as Assured Position Navigation and Timing in a denied environment and upgrades for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program. Another $300 million would fund robotics, Karl Gustav anti-tank weapons, squad radios, XM-25 airburst weapons, and body armor.
The FY18 wish list is rounded out with $500 million for sustainment efforts, $700 million for training, $200 million for infrastructure, and $800 million for installations.
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