JUST IN: Army Launches Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Study as Funding Falls
Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris
AUSTIN, Texas — The Army in its 2021 fiscal year budget request has asked for a sharp reduction in funding for its tactical wheeled vehicles, but that doesn’t mean the service isn’t committed to modernizing its fleets, said the director of force development in the Army’s office of the deputy G-8.
Maj. Gen. Erik Peterson said senior leaders have tasked Army Futures Command to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the TWV fleets to ensure their numbers are not falling under warfighter requirements and that they are suited to multi-domain operations. The study is part of a larger one looking at whether the Army has the right force structure in place for multi-domain operations.
The TWV review will look at resets, recapitalization, technology insertion, new procurements and divestment of platforms that are beyond their useful life, Peterson said March 3 at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Tactical Wheeled Vehicles Conference.
Industry gathered at this year’s premier tactical wheeled vehicles confab as the sector is increasingly seen as a “bill payer” for other Army programs. In the service’s so-called night court process, where certain programs are being cut to fund the Army’s top modernization priorities, tactical wheeled vehicles are taking a hit.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration notified Congress recently that it was reprogramming some $3.8 billion in Defense Department funding to construct the southern border wall, which affected $100 million in National Guard Humvee buys and $100 million in trailers.
“In our 2021 budget request we are still buying tactical wheeled vehicles, but we have slowed our progress based on the modernization priorities,” Peterson said.
The proposed 25 percent reduction in the tactical wheeled vehicle and support vehicles account is a reflection of the six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, the next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, the network, air-and-missile defense and soldier lethality.
Since tactical wheeled vehicles don’t precisely fit into any of these categories, it was decided in the face of flat topline budgets to take some risk with the Army’s non-fighting vehicles, Peterson said.
“It’s just a painful reality of where we are right now in that modernization process,” he said. “We have not lost sight of the essential nature of the contributions that our tactical wheeled vehicles make, but we are taking prudent risks right now.”
The budget request is asking for $95 million for the family of medium tactical vehicles, $7 million for heavy tactical vehicles and $894 million for the joint light tactical vehicle, he said. It includes $18.1 million for research, development, test and evaluation.
The total TWV fleet is now slightly over 200,000 platforms.
Peterson said tactical wheeled vehicles will have to operate in increasingly lethal battlefields where long-range fires can extend up to 1,000 miles. They will have to operate beyond human endurance meaning more autonomy and leader-follower technology, he said.
“Our enemy has eyes on us all the time. Fires are becoming more precise and the ranges are increasing dramatically,” he said.
The Army wants to employ artificial intelligence and machine learning for performance-based logistics and advanced manufacturing on battlefields so parts can be replaced quickly.
The service wants “all the safety features” that are found in today’s commercial vehicles and better fuel efficiency, acknowledging that future vehicles may be all electric or hybrid electric.
“The great thing is we actually have a great idea on the ways and means of building the next tactical wheeled vehicles requirements,” Peterson said.