TYR Tactical

Army Announces Aviation Investment Rebalance

Warfighting is changing more rapidly than it has in decades, and the Army is continuously transforming based on lessons learned and a sober assessment of the modern battlefield. To meet emerging capability requirements in a resource constrained environment, the Army today announced it will rebalance its aviation modernization investments across new and enduring platforms.

The Army will discontinue development of the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft at the conclusion of prototyping activities while continuing investment in the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft, and making new investments in UH-60 Blackhawk, and CH-47F Block II Chinook. The Army will also phase out operations of systems that are not capable or survivable on today’s battlefield including the Shadow and Raven unmanned aircraft systems. The Army will increase investments in cutting-edge, effective, capable and survivable unmanned aerial reconnaissance capabilities and the procurement of commercial small unmanned systems. These investments will be continuous and agile to stay ahead of emerging battlefield requirements.

“The Army is deeply committed to our aviation portfolio and to our partners in the aviation industrial base,” said Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth. “These steps enable us to work with industry to deliver critical capabilities as part of the joint force, place the Army on a sustainable strategic path, and continue the Army’s broader modernization plan which is the service’s most significant modernization effort in more than four decades.”

“We are learning from the battlefield—especially in Ukraine—that aerial reconnaissance has fundamentally changed,” said the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Randy George. “Sensors and weapons mounted on a variety of unmanned systems and in space are more ubiquitous, further reaching, and more inexpensive than ever before. I am confident the Army can deliver for the Joint Force, both in the priority theater and around the globe, by accelerating innovation, procurement and fielding of modern unmanned aircraft systems, including the Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System, Launched Effects, and commercial small unmanned aircraft systems.”

As part of this transformational rebalancing, the Army will:

End development of the Army’s new manned reconnaissance helicopter, the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), at the conclusion of FY24 prototyping activities.

End production of the UH-60V version of the Blackhawk, which extends service life of existing airframes by 10 years, after FY24 due to significant cost growth.

Delay entering production of the Improved Turbine Engine (ITEP) to ensure adequate time to integrate it with AH-64 and UH-60 platforms.

Phase out operations and sustainment of the legacy Shadow and Raven unmanned aircraft systems.

These decisions free up resources to make critical new investments in Army aviation. Going forward, the Army will:

Commit to a new multi-year contract to procure the UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter – a new airframe with a 20+ year service life – and invest in upgrades for the Blackhawk.

End uncertainty over the future of the CH-47F Block II Chinook by formally entering it into production, with a path to full rate production in the future.

Continue the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program as planned, ensuring the Army remains on a path to field the first operational unit in FY30.

Increase investments in research and development to expand and accelerate the Army’s unmanned aerial reconnaissance capability including future tactical unmanned aerial systems and launched effects.

In reviewing the FARA program in light of new technological developments, battlefield developments and current budget projections, Army leaders assessed that the increased capabilities it offered could be more affordably and effectively achieved by relying on a mix of enduring, unmanned, and space-based assets.

Moreover, without reprioritizing funds in its constrained aviation portfolio, the Army faced the unacceptable risk of decline and closure of production and sustainment lines for the Chinook and Blackhawk fleets. The Army’s new plan will renew and extend production of both aircraft, while also sustaining the experienced workforce and vendor base that underpin the Army’s aviation capabilities.

Although Army leadership had to make difficult tradeoffs between programs, this plan will allow the Army to continue building modern capability across its aviation portfolio while funding other critical priorities in future budgets. The Army remains committed to its most ambitious modernization effort in more than 40 years, which has seen significant successes such as the recent delivery and fielding of the Mid-Range Capability, M-10 Booker, Next Generation Squad Weapon, Armored Multipurpose Vehicle, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Precision Strike Missile, Mounted and Dismounted Assured PNT, Maneuver-Short Range Air Defense, Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular, and entering the engineering and manufacturing development phase for FLRAA.

US Army Public Affairs

3 Responses to “Army Announces Aviation Investment Rebalance”

  1. Rowan11b says:

    Lessons learned, no doubt, from the performance of the ka-52 attack/scout helicopters in Ukraine.

    I wonder if we are going to see some larger platform quad-copter type vehicle, that can be flown by a E-4 from Kentucky and launched off a vehicle, with a greater loitering time and ability to carry hellfires or a ATGM.

  2. Eric G says:

    This is a reminder for everyone who says the Air Force should move back under the Army, that there STILL isn’t a replacement for the KIOWA
    And now there won’t be, for quite some time. The Army doesn’t take aviation seriously.

    • Hans says:

      I welcome this shift in mindset. The US military and our defense complex shifted during the GWOT for the right reasons, but the new Cold War with China and proxy wars are re-teaching us lessons that our systems need to be manufacturable at high volume with a high degree of US internally sourced materials; an end to a total globalized supply chain; and our manufacturing base has to be large enough to support it. This isn’t just a US problem, it is problem for all of NATO.

      The advancements we made during the GWOT need to be implemented en masse and our industrial base has to scale with the potential for direct kinetic conflict with the 4 Dogs. We cannot continue to constantly chase the proverbial ‘technological purple squirrel’ without continuing to mass currently fielded & historically proven systems.

      I do believe we need to continue to innovate and produce new technologies, but we need to shift our industrial base to meet the demands of LSCO with currently proven combat systems with an eye to producing more systems to support the Protection WFF. Drones and autonomous vehicles are proving to be a big problem.

      NATO is dealing a devastating blow to Russia’s economic and industrial base, but it (along with the C19 disaster) has also shown how fragile our own industrial base is. We need harden it and be prepared for the ugly showdown, one of which recent generations have not seen for a very long time. Russia knows how to make do, is and always has been willing to consume its human capital at staggering volumes; China/NK will be no different. I hope we are able to field enough systems to counter them so that we don’t have to spend that same human capital unless it is absolutely necessary.

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