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———————————————————————–12 Mar 12. The U.S. Army’s plan to stop buying various combat vehicles beginning in 2014 is causing consternation on Capitol Hill and among industry stakeholders. For the Army, however, the decision simply represents the kind of tradeoff required in a budget that can no longer afford it all. The Army’s plan to stop buying M1 Abrams tanks in 2014 is creating the most pushback from lawmakers. Not only does the Army not need the tanks, it does not need to upgrade the ones it has until 2017, Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told lawmakers during a March 7 hearing of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.The fight over Abrams has it all: industrial base concerns, foreign military sales, budget tradeoffs, the evolution of warfare and the changing U.S. strategy. In many ways, it is a microcosm of the larger forces at play in the defense budget debate. It also represents a clear but painful message for Congress, the military and industry: When you cut the budget, someone loses. The Army argues that it is less costly to temporarily shut down the General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) plant in Lima, Ohio, than to continue to buy tank upgrades it doesn’t need. An Army analysis found that it would cost $600m to $800m to close and later reopen the production line, and nearly $3 billion to keep it up and running during that same time, Army Secretary John McHugh told lawmakers. GDLS disagrees with the Army’s cost evaluation. It would cost $1.6bn to close and reopen the Lima plant, GDLS President Mark Roualet said in an interview. The Army and General Dynamics tend to agree on the shutdown costs. However, the Army says it can reopen the plant for $400m, while GDLS predicts it will cost $997m, Roualet said. (Source: Defense News)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Armed Forces around the world are facing up to a big dilemma, whether to keep their Heavy capability, or ditch the bulk of it as the UK has done. Forecasters still see the requirement to keep a Heavy Brigade capability in the event of repeat of wars such as those in the Middle East and Asia, thus the US is keen to retain the capability. However, the other dilemma is the ability to build a fleet of vehicles to meet the IED threat and retaining the mobility for large scale operations in rural and desert areas. At the moment the ability to produce such a dual-use vehicle looks elusive. Will the result be two fleets of vehicles, one for urban operations and one for large area operations?
18 Mar 12. DRS Technologies, Inc., a Finmeccanica Company, announced the Army Test and Evaluation Command identified DRS’ Driver’s Vision Enhancer Wide (DVE Wide) as one of only 12 technologies out of a field of 47, to earn its highest designation of “Promising Solution.” The DVE Wide, developed and manufactured by the Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (RSTA) Group of DRS, was also awarded a five-star rating from Army Times. Troops that drive MRAPs, Bradleys, Strykers and other armored fighting vehicles may navigate these vehicles along the edges of steep cliffs and other hazards while using a thermal imager with only a field of view of 40 wide x 30 vertically. The DVE Wide which offers a 107 x 30 field of view is a “drop-in” replacement for the standard DVE systems, and can utilize existing cabling and displays making it a cost-effective solution that requires minimal training for troops to use the system effectively. Developed and manufactured by the RSTA Group, the DVE Wide was tested by soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment over a four-week period during the rugged Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) Spiral G exercises at Ft. Benning, Ga. (Source: ASD Network)
12 Mar 12. When the U.S. Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, identified the service’s top three acquisition prioritie