Army Needs 'Seed Corn' For Modernization Goals.


* The Army has ambitious plans to modernize its forces to take on peer competitors. But budget uncertainty and big bets on emerging technologies could pose challenges.

The service this year established a new Futures Command to pursue its top six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires; next-generation combat vehicle; future vertical lift; the network; air-and-missile defense; and soldier lethality.

Robust research-and-development funding will be key to those efforts.

R&D "is the seed corn for future capabilities," Cameron Leuthy, a senior budget analyst at Bloomberg Government, said during a recent Army budget briefing for industry.

The service's budgetary authority for research, development, test and evaluation increased from $9.36 billion in fiscal year 2017 to $11.37 billion in fiscal year 2019, about a 21 percent bump, according to his presentation.

But Pentagon fiscal blueprints indicate that RDT&E funding would drop to $9.72 billion by 2021 and $9.2 billion by 2023, according to Leuthy. That would be a 24 percent decrease over the future years defense program.

However, those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, Leuthy said. "We all know that when you move through the FYDP... additional requirements show up and additional research avenues pay off' and affect funding allocations.

Meanwhile, some large technology investments might not pan out, he noted.

"Think about it the same way that drug companies put a lot of money into...

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