Army helicopter upgrades delayed, virtual training trendingNews
February 22, 2013
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-8 Lt. Gen. James Barclay III, , told audiences at the Association of the U.S. Army's (AUSA) Winter Symposium today that fielding of all combat lift and attack helicopters will be delayed due to the completion of a new modernization strategy based sequestration. The Army’s AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 helicopter upgrade programs will be extended by as much as five years, as the Army prepares for a possible loss of $18 billion in maintenance and operations funding if the March 1 sequester takes effect.
"All of these fielding programs are being pushed; we are just pushing the final year of when we would complete them out into the future," said Barclay. “The CH-47 will be pushed back a couple years, the Apache fleet is going to be extended by three to five years and the Black Hawk fleet is going to be extended by three to five years.”
Though officials maintain that multi-year contracts, such as those on UH-60M Black Hawk and CH-47F Chinook, have saved the department millions, funding cuts preclude their ability to execute on more such deals. "We are also trying to get the multiyear contract for the CH-47 … which equates to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings if we could execute that multi-year contract, but we are not going to be able to do it,” Barclay continued. Under the current fiscal resolution, the Army will not be able to expand existing programs, start new ones, or sign new contracts.
To cope with reduced funding, the Army is also investigating the possibility of staggering modernization through a series of incremental changes in variants over time, as well as a move toward virtual training. Training with flight simulators has increased by 21 percent in the past five years, yielding a 37 percent cost savings. "We always go after training dollars; those are easy to pull away from units," Barclay said. “That is the mindset we have to get into.”