WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army released its top 10 programs it intends to cancel or reduce in fiscal 2021 on Feb. 13, which accounts for $1.13 billion of the $2.4 billion the service plans to shift to higher priority modernization efforts.
Through a second round of night court — an effort to find and shift funding from programs that don’t align with the Army’s modernization priorities or the National Defense Strategy — the Army plans to eliminate 41 programs and reduce or delay another 39 programs across the five-year budget plan from FY21 through FY25, according to FY21 budget documents released Feb. 10.
That would allow $13.5 billion in funds to be moved toward the Army’s top six modernization priorities.
During a budget briefing with the Pentagon press on Feb. 11, the Army said it would produce its list of the top 10 cuts and reductions. But when asked for more details, the service could not explain why it was unable to produce the entire list to the media, but noted it was provided to Congress.
In addition to a few programs the Army already revealed when asked specifically on Feb. 10 — such as its plan to cancel the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) and a delayed Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) buy — the service is also cutting from missile, vehicle, communications and electronic warfare programs.
The Army revealed in the list that its cancellation of the APKWS program frees up $122 million in FY21.
The service also plans to cancel an FY20 new start program in FY21 — the Mobile Intermediate Range Missile, or MIRM, which will save $90 million.
The Army had planned over the next five budget cycles in FY20 to spend nearly $1 billion on MIRM, which is essentially a land-based cruise missile eyed for operations in the Indo-Pacific region to address the medium-range (1,000-kilometer) gap in capability there.
The service was going to move into a technology-maturation and risk-reduction phase in FY21 for the effort.
Plans to fund a service life extension program for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System are also canceled, according to the list, and will save the Army $42.5 million.
The Army is also canceling the Explosive Hazard Roller, Vehicle Optics Sensor System, freeing up $21.6 million as well as the High Mobility Engineer Excavator program worth $16.4 million in FY21.
The cancellation of a Heavy Equipment Transporter variant — dubbed EHET in the list — frees up another $7.8 million to be used for higher priority programs.
An electronic warfare system called the DOD Manager Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare system is also being canceled — valued at $4.3 million.
The service is also eliminating the Route Clearance Interrogation System ($3.5 million), the Light Engineer Utility Trailer ($3.3 million), and the Tactical Electronic Power research and development program ($3.2 million).
Overall, the top 10 canceled programs amount to $314.8 million.
The Army will reduce Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle modifications further after cutting future upgrades beyond its A4 variant in FY20. The service is working to replace the Bradley down the road with an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program, which is currently fraught with uncertainty.
The reduction amounts to $222.2 million in FY21 to cover other modernization efforts. The Army intended to spend $715.3 million in FY21, according to the FY20 budget justification documents.
The Army will now spend $493.1 million which “supports procurement of multiple modifications to the Bradley vehicles including the following: procurement and installation of the Track and Suspension [engineering change proposal], procurement and fielding of M2A4 vehicles, upgrades to the Bradley Fire Support Team vehicle, procurement of training devices and procurement of safety upgrades,” according to FY21 budget documents.
The service notes that current projects indicate the Bradley and its fire support vehicle will remain in armored brigade combat team formations until the 2050s.
Some of the funding reduction comes from the elimination of production and fielding of an active protection system, according to the budget books. The Army is still working toward an APS for the vehicle but has run into a few issues that must be worked through, including changes to the APS itself. And the service needs the Bradley A4 to properly run the system, as A3 power capabilities can’t support it.
The Army is freeing up $201.6 million by delaying procurement of the JLTV by three years, but that won’t affect the service’s overall procurement objective. According to Pentagon budget documents, the Army is requesting $894.4 million in FY21 for 1,920 JLTVs of various configurations as well as 1,334 JLTV-T companion trailers.
“If funding levels remain consistent with the [FY21] funding profile, the Army anticipates reaching the [acquisition program objective] in FY41,” the service said in a statement providing clarity to the newly released budget documents.
The Joint Assault Bridge is also taking a $126.2 million hit. The JAB program is delayed a year due to difficulty with the hydraulics system, which has since been fixed. The program will go for another initial operational test this year after struggling through its first attempt in April 2019.
According to FY20 budget documents, the Army planned to spend $164.3 million in FY21, but will now only spend $72.2 million on the program in that fiscal year.
The Army is also reducing its Close Terrain Shaping Obstacle program, which are munitions used to create obstacles on the battlefield, by $92.9 million. It will also cut $36.6 million out of its Lightweight Laser Designated Rangefinder program.
As the service prepares to procure a new precision strike missile, or PrSM, it has reduced its plans to conduct a service life extension program for the Army Tactical Missile, or ATACMS, which PrSM will ultimately replace. The Army will save $35.6 million in FY21 for that decision.
Additionally, while the service had funded the ATACMS service life extension program across the five-year defense plan in its FY20 budget documents, the FY21 documents show no funding in its five-year plan past FY21.
The Army is also reducing funding for the Distributed Common Ground System-Army, a data analytics capability for intelligence analysis, by $30.6 million due to savings, the list indicates.
And the service is cutting out $25.5 million from PROPHET, a signals intelligence program.
While the Army did not specify what mortars will be cut, it plans to reduce mortar procurement by $22.7 million, and the service will cut from its Total Army Munitions Requirement by $21.9 million.
Through all of the top 10 reductions, the Army will move $815.8 million into priority programs.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.