Army sacrifices JLTV and guided rockets to pay for Army modernization in FY21

Jen Judson

WASHINGTON — The Army will reduce its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) buy in the fiscal 2021 budget and cancel procurement of specific precision-guided rockets in order to fund modernization priorities, according to Maj. Gen. Paul Chamberlain, the Army’s budget director.

Through a second round of night court — an effort to find and shift funding from programs that don’t align with the Army’s modernization priorities or the National Defense Strategy — the service found an additional $2.4 billion to move from lower priority programs.

And the Army found a total of $13.5 billion across the five-year budget plan in savings, with $7.2 billion of that coming from a legacy system review.

Chamberlain said the JLTV procurement would be reduced in FY21. The reductions won’t affect the Army’s overall procurement requirement but will extend the process to buy the vehicles out by additional years.

According to Pentagon budget documents, the Army is requesting $894.4 million in FY21 for 1,920 JLTVs of various configurations as well as 1,334 JLTV-T companion trailers.

The number of JLTVs under contract totals 10,760. The service’s forecasted quantities total across the five-year budget plan is 8,829 vehicles. “If funding levels remain consistent with the [FY21] funding profile, the Army anticipates reaching the [Acquisition Program Objective] in FY41,” the service said in a statement providing clarity to the newly released budget documents.

The Army cut its procurement of the JLTV in its FY20 budget request by 863 vehicles as well. The service procured 3,393 vehicles in FY19 in low-rate initial production, but only planned to buy 2,530 vehicles in FY20. The Army originally planned in its FY19 request to buy 3,035 vehicles in FY20.

The service also struggled to reach full-rate production due to several changes to the vehicle. The Army originally planned to make an FRP decision in December 2018 but didn’t reach the milestone until May 2019.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, while serving as Army secretary in the spring of 2019, said that the vehicle was designed and procured in “the context of Afghanistan and Iraq,” and hence was just not as relevant anymore when applied to the fresh NDS guiding Army investment.

“We are certainly cutting the total number," Esper said of the vehicles, at the time.

The Army is also canceling the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKS) procurement, which are guided rockets, Chamberlain said.

And the Army is also canceling the High Mobility Engineer Excavator and research and development of tactical electric power, he added.

The service is also planning to reduce the service life extension program for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and some mortar procurement, Chamberlain said.

The Army is planning to replace ATACMS with its new Precision Strike Missile (PrSM). Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are competing to build the new missile for the Army.

As far as the bigger programs that saw reductions or cancellations last year in order to find funding for top priorities, the Army is not walking back on those decisions.

For example, the service is still continuing to upgrade Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles in advance of procuring its replacement, the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, which is currently in a tactical pause. But it’s not adding back cuts it made to upgrades to pay for OMFV, despite its unclear future.

And the Army is still not planning on funding any CH-47F Block II Chinook cargo helicopters for the active force, which it cut last year, despite Congress injecting funds in FY20 to jump start advanced procurement for aircraft for the active force.

Chamberlain said the service is still planning to fund the development and procurement of the Block II variant for Army Special Operations.

The Army plans to revisit its decision to cut the CH-47F Block II procurement for conventional forces in FY23, according to a service statement. The options include buying the Block II variant for the active component or recapitalizing the Block I variant, the statement details.