Increased Funding for Next-Gen Army Helos, Vehicles in Senate’s NDAA

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 163rd Cavalry Regiment, Montana Army National Guard, position their Bradley Fighting Vehicle during a defensive attack training exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, Calif., June 1, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Alisha Grezlik)
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 163rd Cavalry Regiment, Montana Army National Guard, position their Bradley Fighting Vehicle during a defensive attack training exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, Calif., June 1, 2019. (U.S. Army photo/Alisha Grezlik)

The Senate has passed its version of the Pentagon's budget bill, in many cases providing more money than requested for the Army's next-generation combat vehicles and helicopters, as well as infantry support weapons.

The Senate’s proposed $750 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 authorizes $534.8 million for the Army's advanced aviation development. The $75.6 million increase falls under Advanced Component & Prototypes, according to the document.

In addition, the proposed budget allocates $254.6 million for the Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, about $9 million more than the service requested.

FVL is one of the Army's top modernization priorities, designed to replace the service's major combat platforms by 2028.

The proposal also would budget $418.4 million for the Army's manned ground vehicle under the Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) program -- a $40 million increase over the service's fiscal 2020 request.

The NGCV is being designed to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The increase would go toward development of the NGCV's 50mm main gun, according to the budget document.

The Army's No. 1 modernization priority -- long-range precision fires -- would receive $178.3 million, slightly more than the $174.3 million the service requested. The $4 million increase would be scheduled to go toward hypersonic weapons research.

The Army's Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office has been tasked to field one battery of long-range hypersonic weapons capable of maneuvering at speeds of more than Mach 5 by fiscal 2023.

The Senate plan also slots $393.6 million for the Army's effort to mount potent, 30mm cannons on Stryker vehicles. That's nearly triple what the service requested.

The Army recently selected five defense firms to participate in a design study for mounting a 30mm cannon on the Stryker wheeled vehicle in an effort to field the first Stryker brigade with that armament by 2022.

In addition, the spending plan would reserve $126 million for infantry support weapons, which includes $19.9 million above the administration's request for the automatic rifle version of the Next-Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW).

The NGSW program is being designed to feature automatic rifle and rifle versions of a 6.8mm weapon that will replace the M249 and M4 carbine family in infantry and other close-combat formations. It's a top program under the Army's soldier lethality modernization priority.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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