As expected, the Army has eliminated funding for its high tech soldier ensemble, Land Warrior, in its budget for 2008. The gear -- a collection of radios, electronic maps, and next-gen rifle scopes -- was finally supposed to connect the average infantryman into the growing network for combat. But the Army never could figure out the seemingly-endless weight and usability issues.Robot Economist is almost delirious over the program's demise:
DOD planners dream up expensive systems... while ignoring the obvious success of modern digital device formats, such as cellphones, PDAs and even iPods. You may not be able to tap out a text message on a cellphone during a firefight as easily as with the Land Warrior, but what are you doing text messaging anyways? That's what the radio is for!But Land Warrior isn't quite dead, yet. The 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry will still be taking more than 200 Land Warrior uniforms to Iraq, later on this year. The systems were already bought and paid for, in earlier budgets. And the hope is that Land Warrior performs so well under fire that the Army's chiefs have no choice but to turn the program's cash spigot back on. "It's kind of a Hail Mary pass," one Pentagon insider tells me.The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II, a new rocket for Apache and Cobra copters, and the Army Tactical Missile System have been wiped out, too.Also, as expected, the Army will trim its mongo modernization project, Future Combat Systems, by cutting "two classes of unmanned aerial systems, one unmanned ground system and remov[ing] the Intelligent Munition System [a sort of smart landmine] from the program," Inside Defense reports. Army budget director Lt. Gen. Dave Melcher says the changes will save $3.3 billion over five years. FCS will still cost taxpayers $10.6 billion in fiscal year 2008 alone, if the Pentagon's budget goes through. Plus, there will be another $222 million for the Warfighter Information Network - Tactical, which is designed to help troops on the battlefield plug into info networks through satellite, airborne and terrestrial links. That's a nearly 100% increase over the previous year.Defense News lists some of the other items that the Army is buying this year with its $27.8 billion procurement budget:
$473 million to buy Patriot PAC-3 missiles.$596 million to buy 7,000 Humvees.$828 million to buy 2,862 trucks in the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles.$483 million to buy trucks in the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles.$172 million to buy mortars rounds.$222 million to buy artillery rounds.$167 million to buy rockets.$132 million to buy combat service support equipment.$712 million to modernize AH-64 Apache helicopters.$705 million to buy UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.$191 million to buy Chinook CH-47 cargo helicopters.$468 million to buy Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to replace OH-58D Kiowa Warriors.$230 million to buy Light Utility Helicopters.$98 million to buy 5,900 M4 carbines.We are trying to procure M4s for all soldiers in theater; the shorter weapon gives a lot more potential, the services budget director, Lt. Gen. Dave Melcher said. UPDATE 7:44 PM: "The 4th Brigade was also scheduled to test Land Warrior at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., but now that has also been canceled," Federal Computer Week notes. "NTC is a common final stop for realistic training before Iraq deployments."
The unit will be fully supported throughout its Iraq deployment, Atherton said. The Army has funding for unit support and repair parts through 2007 and is confident they will find procurement or operating money to keep the unit alive in 2008.Meanwhile, the program office for Land Warrior here at home will be shut down. The Army will buy replacement parts and materials to last during the duration of the deployment...The Army is looking for alternatives to give dismounted soldiers a point of presence on the network, Melcher said. One possibility is something called the Single Infantry Transport System, which has similar capabilities, he said.The research from Land Warrior will be folded into the Future Force Warrior program, a component of the Future Combat System, Melcher said.