The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said he’s “concerned” about the number of new weapons program within the Defense Department, especially those within the Army.
The Army has had to cut a number of programs — notably the Ground Combat Vehicle — even as the service slashes end strength numbers to meet budget goals. Service officials remain committed to replacing the M113 with the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, but that is a modernization program that remains in danger.
Undersecretary Frank Kendall used the production of armored vehicles as an example of a weak point in a defense industry that he said sits as a major concern for the Defense Department. Congress has long complained about the Army’s plans to halt the production of tanks in light of the limited number of factories and workers trained to produce them.
Kendall said Wednesday he’s similarly worried about the small number of factories capable of producing armored vehicles. The undersecrtary’s comments may come as a surprise to Army leaders frustrated that few of their modernization priorities have been green-lighted.
While expensive programs like the Joint Strike Fighter continue to receive budgetary protection, more most weapons or vehicle programs like the GCV have fallen under the ax. Many have questioned if the Army is receiving the right amount of attention after it has spent the past 13 years fighting ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Army is not limited to ground vehicles in its modernization portfolio. It is also pursuing an ambitions program to replace the radio architecture on the battlefield. However, that program has faced many of the same problems other new programs in the Army have suffered.
— Update: An earlier version incorrectly stated that the AMPV would be replacing the Bradley. It is replacing the M113.