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US Army releases 2014 modernisation plan

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The CH-47 Chinook helicopter will be getting upgrades for its F and G models under the proposed fiscal year 2014 Army Equipment Modernisation Plan and the Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle is replacing the Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier in phases. Photo: US Army.

WASHINGTON (BNS): The US Army's fiscal year 2014 Equipment Modernisation Plan, now working its way through Congress, prioritises equipping warfighters in Afghanistan while simultaneously preparing for an uncertain future.

Programmes in the modernisation strategy are grouped within ten "portfolios," but some of those programmes the US Army has called out as being priorities for the service.

According to a news release by the US Army, several programmes that make up the Army network have been included as priorities in the plan. Among those are the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, at $1.3 billion; the Family of Networked Tactical Radios, at $402.1 million; the Joint Battle Command-Platform, at $110.6 million; the Distributed Common Ground System-Army, at $295 million; and the Nett Warrior system, at $122.6 million.

Among combat vehicles, the Army has prioritised the Ground Combat Vehicle programme, at $592 million; the Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle, at $116 million; and the Paladin Integrated Management system, at $340.8 million.

Additionally, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is a priority for the service, at $84.2 million; as is the Kiowa Warrior, at $257.8 million, the release added.

Brig. Gen. John G. Ferrari, director, joint and futures, Army G-8 said having a modernisation plan doesn't necessarily mean funding is guaranteed, or that Congress won't make changes.

Because of the budget control act and sequestration, the Army still doesn't know how much money it has to purchase equipment in fiscal year 2013, much less fiscal year 2014. This creates a ripple effect in purchasing, he said, causing a backlog of things that need to be purchased.

As the Army's manpower and budget shrink, it has to be more selective on what to purchase. That might include buying some things in smaller quantities and staggering those purchases out over the years as old equipment is retired, Ferrari said.

Ferrari also said the Army needs to slow down spending on development of technologies that are similar to what is already available in the private sector.

The civilian sector already is investing massive amounts of research and development dollars into its hardware, software and other electronic devices, so investing Army dollars in those same endeavors might be foolhardy, he said.

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