Congress May Make Cuts To Boeing's Combat-System

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Seattle Times
February 20, 2008 By Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg News
The $160 billion system of vehicles, drones and communications Boeing is building for the U.S. Army faces more scrutiny and potential cuts this year in Congress, Army Chief of Staff General George Casey said.
While Army and Pentagon officials aren't seeking major cuts in the Future Combat Systems (FCS), "that's not the case" with lawmakers, Casey told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon.
The Army wants about $3.6 billion in fiscal 2009 for the program, or about 10 percent of its combined research and procurement request for fiscal 2009.
Casey said Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's panel on land warfare, told him he plans to cut this request to pay for current needs.
"He says his challenge is near-term readiness," Casey said, "but the notion you can take care of near-term readiness by moving money out of FCS, I don't think, is exactly right."
Abercrombie's panel last year trimmed $867 million from the Army's request for $3.56 billion. Congress settled on a cut of $228 million for the current fiscal year.
Congress cut the program by $326 million in fiscal 2007 and $226 million in fiscal 2006.
Casey said the Army must convince skeptical lawmakers that the system is relevant to the war on terrorism as well as conventional conflicts.
It plans over the next two years to field some of the sensor and drone technology being developed for the final system that's to be deployed after 2015.
Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., head of the House panel on defense spending, told a defense industry conference last week that he's "concerned about the affordability of this program."
The program is the Pentagon's second most expensive behind the $299 billion Joint Strike Fighter.
"We're still in the early stages of the 2009 budget process so for now our focus will continue to be on executing on FCS and delivering this capability for the Army," Boeing spokesman John Morrocco said in an e-mail statement.
Separately, Casey said the Army is still determining how many fortified Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle it will eventually purchase.
The Army, with the assistance of the U.S. Central Command, is reviewing whether it needs as many as 10,000 vehicles, a figure set last year.
"There will be a decision made by the end of the month," Casey said.
About 1,000 vehicles have been fielded to the Army since October, he said adding that the vehicles are performing "very well."
"We've only had one soldier killed operating an MRAP" in Iraq out of up to 30 attacks dating from October to last week, he said.