As the Army focuses in on rapidly improving long-range precision fires, Congress is giving the service a large monetary boost.
U.S. Army weapons and munitions technology development is becoming a major cash injection within the fiscal 2019 spending bill, which emerged from conference committee late September 13, 2018.
Research, development, technology and evaluation dollars for weapons and munitions technology saw a $343 million boost within the appropriations bill anticipated to be voted on by both chambers this week. The Army had requested just $40.44 million in RDT&E funding to further improve weapons and munitions, but lawmakers will provide an overall $383.44 million.
Additionally, the check adds $139.68 million to the Army’s RDT&E afford weapons and munitions advanced technology. The Army requested just $102 million in FY19.
A large portion of the funding is geared towards the Army’s top modernization priority, Long Range Precision Fires.
The Army is about to demonstrate LRPF technology, from your precision-strike missile, using a variety of 499 kilometers, to supersonic and ramjet capabilities over the following few years that can allow missiles to succeed in around 1,000 nautical miles.
Since the Army’s budget request dropped in February this year, the service has formed cross-functional teams to tackle six top modernization priorities. Those CFTs attended up with more concrete road maps to rapidly modernize the force to go up against peer adversaries like Russia and China.
“There is actually a need to modernize our surface-to-surface fires at echelon so that you can guarantee a specific over-match against any potential adversary both for the modern and future battlefield,” Brig. Gen. Stephen Maranian, the LRPF team lead, replied earlier this year. “To that effort, we’re considering how can we increase our range, how do we increase our lethality and how can we increase our volume of fires, not only inside missile area, but at echelon.”
The new Army Futures Command commander, Gen. Mike Murray, noted during a Sept. 13 House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing how the service can also be adding cannon and rocket artillery back in its formations. “It’s very graciously been in a position to grow over the past two to three years, along with a large piece of that growth is dependent on artillery,” Murray said.
To get following your efforts within that portfolio, the Army’s CFT is focused on extending the variety of the service’s cannon artillery capabilities, developing a longer-range missile to replace its current Army Tactical Missile System and developing such capabilities as supersonic and ramjet that will allow the force to achieve more strategic ranges using its weapons systems.
Aside from the $25 million general program increase in technology development for weapons and munitions, Congress plans to present an additional $20 million to pursue extended-range cannon artillery efforts, and another $67 million to improve the lethality of extended range artillery systems.
Congress also would like to add another $10 million to build up a long-range hybrid projectile.
More funding to build up effectiveness and lethality in weapons systems was added inside the conference report, like $50 million for work on a 120mm cannon-fired guided missile; $10 million for any medium-caliber, lightweight composite barrel development effort; and another $2.5 million for advanced warhead technology.
Congress is also providing $15 million to produce weapons effectiveness in urban engagements, which is in which the Army envisions another surge in operations as adversaries increasingly hide among civilian populations so that as cities around the world continue to boom and grow in complexity.
Another $30 million will go toward defense against small unmanned aircraft systems, that happen to be hard to hit because of their maneuverability and size.
Another surplus in funding goes toward refining the accuracy of weapons and munitions, like $20 million to build up a sensor-fused munition and another $23 million for laser weapons accuracy.
Lawmakers also added $20 million for advanced processing of insensitive energetic materials, $20 million for armament system integration, $20 million for armament systems concepts and $13 million for novel printed-armaments components.
Under the advanced technology development for weapons and munitions, Congress is adding an unspecified program increase of $42 million.
One from the bigger increases in the category goes toward LRPF. The Senate had originally added $101.8 million in the version of the bill, but conferees compromised with a $35 million increase to the LRPF development effort.
Lawmakers may also be providing $12 million to accelerate the Extended-Range Cannon Artillery gun, which is a 58-caliber cannon. The effort will observe quickly behind the Army’s initial effort to upgrade its current Paladin howitzer using a new M107A7 chassis.
The Army’s CFT for LRPF would like to begin to see the extended-range cannon capability, or otherwise an initial iteration, initially fielded in just a couple of years.
The Army would also get another $20 million to produce high-energy lasers for weapons systems.