"Secretary Gates today confirmed his April 6th announcement and last week’s budget release that the Obama administration plans to go forward with deeply cutting or cancelling a wide range of national defense programs,” Senator Inhofe said. “Among them were programs like the vehicle portion of the Army’s Future Combat System (FCS), which served as the Army’s modernization initiative since 2004.
“I disagree with Secretary Gates’ decision and his reasoning to cancel the manned ground vehicle portion of FCS. For eight years, the requirement for the FCS manned ground vehicles was validated and revalidated by both Army and Joint Requirements Oversight Councils with the Department of Defense (DoD) providing oversight of the entire program. The chassis design changes reflect input from the Army based upon feedback from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The design also ensures these vehicles remain effective throughout the spectrum of conflict. Currently, three prototypes of the Non-Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) are undergoing testing and have fired over 4,000 rounds.
“Secretary Gates’ decision once again sends the Army back to the drawing board and leaves our Soldiers without a vehicle modernization program. The requirement to modernize the Army’s fleet of rapidly aging combat vehicles has not changed for over a decade. The fact remains that an Army modernization program currently exists that meets the requirements generated by the Army and approved by the Department of Defense: the Future Combat Systems. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been invested in developing the FCS systems and technology. FCS remains the Army’s most developed and technologically advanced modernization system with vehicle prototypes currently being tested.
“While I was pleased with Secretary Gates’ statement of support for Army vehicle modernization, I am concerned with what Secretary Gates did not say. For the past seven years, Congress has written into law requirements for production of the NLOS-C through low-rate initial production in 2010. Secretary Gates stated that all money in the out-years for the FCS manned ground vehicle program would be protected for Army vehicle modernization. Unfortunately, there is currently no current Future Years Defense Program available and the 2010 Defense Budget cuts $1.2 billion dollars from the Army’s combat vehicle account.
“I am deeply concerned that we are on our way to another defense procurement holiday similar to the 1990s, a decision that will negatively affect our military readiness for years to come, and potentially the next war.”