WASHINGTON -- Senate authorizers are concerned about the Army's move to reduce funding across its tactical wheeled vehicle fleet in favor of developing next-generation systems, as they feel it could negatively impact the industrial base as well as readiness.
The Senate Armed Services Committee's report accompanying the fiscal year 2021 defense policy bill includes a provision seeking a briefing from the service on the fleet's minimum sustaining rates and its plan to support those rates, due by Sept. 30 of this year.
"The committee notes with concern that the fiscal year 2021 budget request includes a steep reduction in funding across the tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) fleet," the report states. "Funding decreases were most pronounced for the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) and the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) programs, which rely on minimum sustaining rates (MSRs). Ensuring that heavy and medium tactical vehicles are authorized at or above the MSRs of production is important to maintaining a base of responsive vendors and suppliers in order to keep production lines active."
The committee notes the Army's brigade combat teams rely on the FMTV and HEMTT, "and overall readiness rates may be impacted if parts and spares become unavailable due to production breaks."
Meanwhile, the committee also wants the Army to provide a briefing on a tactical wheeled vehicle strategy that is expected to be completed this fiscal year, following a study that Army Futures Command is currently conducting on the capabilities required "to support future multi-domain operations."
The lawmakers note the service has not completed such a study since 2014, before the Pentagon shifted its focus to near-peer competitors with the National Defense Strategy.
"The committee notes that the current tactical wheeled vehicle (TWV) fleet consists of nearly 250,000 vehicles and their associated trailers, generally categorized as light, medium, and heavy," the report states. "Ensuring the suitability and resiliency of the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet is critically important to our national defense. Furthermore, the United States automotive and commercial truck industry has invested in vehicle technologies, to include emissions controls, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles, which could be leveraged to upgrade the tactical fleet, some of which is built on designs originated in the 1980s or earlier."
The Army is directed to brief the committee on the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet before the end of this year.
The report also directs the Government Accountability Office "to assess the Army's tactical wheeled vehicle strategy and implementation efforts," including "potential competitive opportunities and whether obstacles exist that prohibit such competition."
The committee requests the comptroller submit an interim briefing on the preliminary findings by March 1, 2021.