The Army is requesting $500 million for 28 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as part of it's unfunded priorities list. (Defense Department)
WASHINGTON — Following the request of the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R-Ca.), the Army along with its sister services passed along its “Unfunded Priorities List” for fiscal 2015 this week. The $10.6 billion request includes the $7.5 billion Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative already put together by the White House, though it tweaks those numbers slightly.
It tracks pretty closely to that previously publicized request which called for $600 million to buy 26 Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, $500 million for 28 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, and $100 million for two Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters, along with $1.8 billion to bolster Army training and readiness accounts.
The latest unfunded request list wraps all that up into one big $1.3 billion pot that calls for 23 remanufactured Apache helicopters (along with training devices and cockpit displays), 28 Black Hawks, two Ch-47s, and upgrades for eighteen Gray Eagle UAVs.
The Army also requested an additional $681 million to procure a fourth brigade of Stryker Double-V Hull vehicles and to buy an additional 23 M88 Hercules hauler trucks.
According to long-term budgetary planning documents previously obtained by Defense News, the Army plans on transforming all nine of its Stryker brigades to the Double V Hull variant, though funding past the first three had not been identified until this latest request.
The Army is also trying to buy back some of its earlier communications and tech modernization that had been curtailed in earlier base budget cuts.
The service is asking Congress to find an additional $387 million to pay for a variety of commercial-off-the-shelf hardware to outfit and field the controversial Distributed Common Ground System-Army, and $405 million to fund mission command systems that would patch soldiers and their vehicles in to the WIN-T battlefield network that is currently fielded.
The Army is also looking for an additional $1.2 billion in training and readiness funds, and $650 million for Army cyber and network functions.
In a related request, the Special Operations Command requested $400 million in funds, most of it tabbed to training and construction needs, including $95 million for more aircrew training and $47 million of processing, exploitation and dissemination capabilities for the “SOF ISR Enterprise.” That money would also be directed to enhancing the “reach back network” for SOCOMs MW-9 Reaper UAV fleet. There is also a request for $25 million for further training of JSOC elements, and about $175 million more to fund further training and communications upgrades for the command’s Theater Special Operations Command offices that work with Combatant Commanders around the globe.
Interestingly, the request also asks for $3.5 million for the construction of a Stryker Maintenance Area at Ft. Lewis, Wash. While not widely publicized, Army SOF has been using the fast, eight-wheeled Stryker in combat since 2005 when a unit of the 75th Ranger Regiment operated sixteen of the vehicles in Afghanistan, and then again in 2012 when the 2nd Battalion, 75th Rangers from Ft. Lewis deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand province.