When the Pentagon was flush with war funds a decade ago, buying new tanks and armored fighting vehicles was not a pressing priority. At the time, it was believed that tank warfare was a thing of the past, and even if the Army had wanted to buy new systems, procurement officials were disillusioned by the state of technology and gun shy to invest in new ventures after the colossal failure of the multibillion-dollar “future combat systems” program that was launched in 2002 and terminated in 2009.
In the newly released “U.S. Army Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy,” the Army lays out a 30-year plan to beef up its formations with new and improved vehicles. But officials are letting it be known that projects will be limited in scope and technological reach in the near term, while the more ambitious efforts are being pushed to 2030 and beyond.
Officials have made it clear that there is no money for whiz-bang programs.
“Years ago we were limited by technology. Now are limited by money,” Brig. Gen. David G. Bassett, Army program executive officer for ground combat systems, told reporters Oct. 13 at the Association of the United States Army annual conference. “I see a lot of great technology and ideas but we are constrained by budget,” he added. At the projected production rates, it will take more than a decade to field any of the upgrades that are now under way for the Abrams tank, the Bradley fighting vehicle and other platforms.