Senate authorizers seek to adjust Apache, Black Hawk funding

By Jaspreet Gill / June 17, 2019 at 2:27 PM

The Senate Armed Services Committee is recommending an increase of $105 million for the Army to buy three AH-64 Apache Block IIIB new-build aircraft, differing from the service's request.

The committee, in the report accompanying its version of the fiscal year 2020 defense policy bill, said the Army should field the aircraft "as quickly as possible across the 24 attack battalions in the active component and the Army National Guard."

The Army did not ask for funding its FY-20 budget request, arguing the new-build aircraft "are procured at a significantly higher cost" than the AH-64E remanufactured aircraft, which are the same configuration and are procured using the same contracts.

The authorizers are also recommending a decrease of $140 million below the service's request for UH-60M Black Hawk procurement, citing concerns with "the utility helicopter industrial base and the dramatic downturn in production of UH–60M aircraft through the proposed future years defense program."

"The committee believes that the Army should take advantage of the current multiyear contract that will expire in fiscal year 2021 and more equitably distribute procurement to limit a steep production cut from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021," the report states.

The committee is further seeking to increase funding for L and V Black Hawks, by $35 million, to accelerate conversion to the V model, "which provides enhanced situational awareness," so the service can "optimize training and reduce operation and sustainment costs," according to the report.