April 10, 2013
Credit: U.S. Army
The U.S. Army announced April 10 that it is seeking $5 billion in fiscal 2014 to buy or upgrade its helicopter fleet and acquire more large and small unmanned aircraft to provide ground troops with better intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Army’s cut of the $526.6 billion Defense Department 2014 budget request is $129.7 billion, with only 18%, $23.9 billion, going to procurement and research, development, testing and evaluation programs. Personnel needs will be getting the largest piece of the pie, 44%, or $56.6 billion.
As with the rest of the Pentagon budget, the Army request does not yet have a figure for overseas operations — mostly in Afghanistan. Documents accompanying the budget numbers stated the base budget request is $1.7 billion, almost 7% less than the fiscal 2013 request.
Aircraft procurement was the largest single buying category in the fiscal 2014 request at just more than $5 billion. Last year’s aircraft request was $5.85 billion, not counting the $486 million requesting for overseas operations.
This year the Army seeks $1.23 billion to buy 65 new UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters — 41 in the UH-60M utility configuration and 24 in the H-60M medical variation. Another $1.05 billion is slated to go toward buying six new CH-47F Chinook cargo helicopters, 10 battle loss replacements and 22 remanufactured ones. Improvements will include a new airframe, digital cockpit and digital advanced flight controls.
The multiyear recapitalization of both aircraft “provides manufacturing stability for our industry partners and significant cost savings for the Army,” Davis Welch, the deputy director of Army Budget, told a Pentagon press briefing.
The budget request includes $184 million to upgrade the conversion of OH-58 Kiowa Warriors from the “D” to the “F” model to improve armed reconnaissance through the most affordable means. Another $813 million is planned for 42 remanufactured Block III AH-64 Apache attack helicopters. Remanufacturing would save $17 million over buying new, said Welch, adding that the almost new Apaches would have net-centric capabilities allowing them to control airborne unmanned aircraft for all maneuvers except landings. The Army also wants to use $96 million for the Army National Guard to buy 10 UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopters that Welch said would be “the last Lakotas.”
The Army is requesting $550 million to acquire 15 new MQ-1 Gray Eagle extended range, multipurpose unmanned aircraft systems, including ground control stations and satellite communications terminals, plus four aircraft war replacements. Also on the Army shopping list: $122 million for RQ-7 Shadow and $11 million for RQ-11 land-launched Raven unmanned air vehicles.
For continuing, through-the-day coverage of the U.S. budget rollout, Aviation Week Intelligence Network subscribers should click here to visit our Fiscal 2014 budget digest page often, where the Aviation Week editorial team will post expert coverage and analysis.