WASHINGTON: The Army’s acquisition chief says the service is sticking with its 34 top-priority programs – in the face of budget pressure from the pandemic. But most of those programs will only move from prototypes to mass production in the second half of the 2020s; then they stay in service for decades with repeated upgrades. So, assistant secretary Bruce Jette says, the Army needs to exploit new technologies like 3D printing and modular upgrades to reduce long-term costs – but also revive long-term economic forecasting techniques largely neglected since the Cold War.
“At this point, we’re remaining on schedule with the ‘31 plus 3,’” Jette said during an Association of the US Army webcast yesterday. (The Army divides the 34 programs this way because 31 of them, from intermediate-range missiles to smart rifles, are managed by Army Futures Command, but three of the most technologically challenging – hypersonic missiles and two types of missile defense lasers – belong to the independent Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office).
But the service needs to