WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK-4), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, today express displeasure with the program timeline the U.S. Army provided for the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) Program.  The Army-provided timeline sets PIM limited production rates at 18 per year until 2017 at which time the program will adjust to a 3 year full production rate of some 114 howitzers per year for a total of some 460 total howitzers.

"I have grave concern for the Army's indirect fire system development program," Inhofe said.  "We are looking at a significant capabilities gap over the coming years, which started with the cancellation of the Crusader Program and continued with the cancellation of the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) in 2009.  It is now 2010 and I remain skeptical of the Army's current plan to retrofit the 1960's Paladin 155mm self propelled howitzer with the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program.  Based on the Army's current timeline, we will not see full production rates until 2017 and in the interim period will spend millions of dollars putting band aids on the current fleet of howitzers.  The current schedule is unacceptable and I will be working with Army leadership to shorten that timeline.  The Army needs a timely, thorough and comprehensive modernization program.  If we do not modernize, we risk sending our sons and daughters into combat in vehicles that are second-rate and are less survivable and less effective in combat.  We cannot continue to put this off."

Cole said, "The Paladin weapons system is outdated, and upgrading it is vital to our national defense.  I am extremely concerned with the Full Rate Production schedule for the Paladin Integrated Management program.  After the cancellation of Crusader, the repeated re-scoping of NLOS-C and its cancellation, and now a severe schedule delay with PIM, it is hard to believe that the Army is prioritizing our artillery programs in the appropriate manner.  Questions will have to be answered regarding this program.  The whole Oklahoma delegation will stand together in holding the Army accountable to ensure our servicemen and women are provided with the best indirect fire support."