By Ethan Sterenfeld / June 1, 2021 at 6:04 PM
The Army wants to cut its spending on 155 mm artillery rounds to $174 million in fiscal year 2022, down from the $306.3 million Congress appropriated for FY-21.
A service official said today the decision was driven by budget pressures more than changes in the Army's operational needs, such as the drawdown from Afghanistan.
"When we looked across the accounts at where we could take a degree of risk to support some of the modernization efforts, this was one area where leadership was comfortable taking some risks," Jack Daniels, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for plans, programs and resources, told reporters.
He said these cuts should not hurt training, as the Army has a sufficient reserve of the artillery rounds used for training. In addition, production will remain above the levels needed to sustain the industrial base.
"It doesn't affect the industrial base," Daniels said. "We will still be able to produce, and we can ramp up production quickly in the future if need be."
To protect its modernization priorities while cutting procurement and research budgets by more than 10%, the Army has reduced funding for many existing programs in its proposed FY-22 budget, which was released Friday.
Much of the difference in funding will come from cuts to the M795 high explosive round, the Army's standard combat projectile. Under the budget request, procurement funding for the M795 would be $61.8 million in FY-22, down from the $145.6 million appropriated for FY-21.
The budget request would provide for the Army to buy 75,357 M795 rounds, which would support training and the service's war reserve.
Funding for the XM1113, a rocket-assisted round being developed alongside the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, part of the Army's long-range precision fires modernization priority, would grow to $51.1 million under the FY-22 budget request, from $27.0 million in FY-21.
This would be used to buy 1,400 XM1113 rounds for 39-caliber artillery, such as the M777 towed howitzer and M109 family of self-propelled howitzers, and 1,046 XM1113 Extended Range, which will be used by the ERCA, which has a longer barrel.
The unit cost would be $13,656 for each regular XM1113 round and $14,484 for each XM1113 Extended Range round. That is a reduction from previous years for the regular XM1113, and this is the first year for which unit cost of the extended-range version is available.
Funding for the M982 Excalibur precision-guided round, which is reported separately from other 155 mm ammunition, would fall slightly under the FY-22 budget request, to $73.5 million, from $76.8 million in the FY-21 budget appropriation.
Unit costs would more than double to $176,624 per round in FY-22, from $80,948 in FY-21.
While funding for the artillery rounds was reduced in the FY-22 budget request, the Army's legacy 155 mm howitzer systems escaped the worst of the cuts.
The budget would include $446.4 million for Paladin Integrated Management, the program to update the service's M109A6 self-propelled howitzers to the M109A7 specification, along with upgrades to the tracked ammunition carriers that accompany each M109. That is down from the $463.4 million appropriated for the program in FY-21.
The FY-22 proposal would buy 25 M109 upgrades, down from 31 in FY-21. Unit costs would increase in FY-22, according to the budget request, because the program would produce only slightly above its minimum sustaining rate, two M109s per month.
Modification funding for the M777A2, the 155 mm towed howitzer the Army shares with the Marine Corps, would more than double under the FY-22 budget request, to $22 million.