WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), participated Tuesday in a SASC Airland Subcommittee hearing on Army modernization where Lt. Gen. Michael Williamson confirmed that the Army’s contract with BAE Systems in Elgin, Okla. for the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program is not only on track but will likely be awarded a full-rate production contract within the year. Lt. Gen. Williamson further acknowledged that Army prioritized funding for the PIM program to ensure there is no critical gap in the Army’s ability to deliver fires, despite budget constraints.
During the hearing, Inhofe requested that Lt. Gen. Williamson offer an evaluation of the PIM program, which Lt. Gen. Williamson responded by calling the Paladin PIM program a proven “significant investment” for helping the Army confront a capabilities gap brought on by “obsolescence of existing [defense] systems.” Lt. Gen. Williamson further stated that the timeline for PIM delivery has gone “so well” that the Army is now looking at awarding the full-rate production contract so that it can take effect as early as 2017.
Regarding the PIM program, Lt. Gen. Williamson said, “This is an example where we have been successful in modernizing a system, bringing additional capability, and filling a gap for the Army.”
Lt. Gen. Williamson closed his questioning with Inhofe by stating, “What I’d argue today is that the Army is modernizing. We are modernizing. As you look at our ‘17 budget request, it includes modernization. What really affects us is that we have to slow down modernization. So as priorities come up, whether it is readiness or something else, we end up stretching out or delaying modernization, which adds cost in the long run. Our goal is to never let that happen; it is to deliver to a schedule and to reduce cost and find deficiencies where possible.”
Inhofe released the following statement regarding Lt. Gen. Williamson’s comments: “I am proud of Oklahomans' hard work that has helped to best equip our troops and ensure the PIM program remains on track and cost effective. Because of those that serve at Fort Sill and the surrounding community support, Oklahoma continues to be an attractive place for the Army to make investments in military modernization. I am committed to ensuring Oklahoma is on the top of the list for consideration of ongoing and future military projects.”
For video of Inhofe’s Q&A with Lt. Gen. Williamson, click here.