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Future of Army Aviation Funding Remains Murky

The Army has ambitious plans to acquire next-generation aircraft as it gears up for great power competition. But uncertainty about future vertical lift programs and other modernization efforts leaves an unclear picture of what lies ahead, analysts say.

The service has about 4,300 piloted aircraft, most of which are helicopters, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The H-60 Black Hawks, AH-64 Apaches and H-47 Chinooks account for most of the rotary wing platforms.

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As Future Vertical Lift Gets Underway, Army Eyeing Chinook Replacement

A week after the Army pledged nearly $4 billion on its future attack helicopter effort, Army Secretary Mark Esper said he wants aircraft makers to start planning for the service’s next heavy-lift helicopter as a replacement for the CH-47 Chinook. In the near term, the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program has prioritized building the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA), followed by the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA, pronounced “flora”), and fielding both next-generation helicopters by 2028.

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Army May Face Trade-Off Between CH-47F, Block II and AH-64E New Builds

As the fiscal 2020 budget season gets underway, the U.S. Army may face the issue of whether to push Congress for more funding for Boeing CH-47F Block II upgrades or new AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.

“If Boeing and the Army aviation community are going to prioritize one program for lobbying, it’s going to be Chinook, not Apache,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group. “Unlike Apache, there’s not a large volume re-manufacturing program for the Chinook, and Boeing and Army aviators want to get the CH-47F Block II done. They want that capability.”

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Army to Trim CH-47 Upgrades by 10 percent, McCarthy says

U.S. Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy said on March 13 that the Army will buy 10 percent fewer Boeing CH-47F Block II upgrades than planned in order to fund top modernization priorities, such as Long-Range Precision Fires, Future Vertical Lift (FVL) and the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, and Boeing said the decision, if implemented, would decrease Army readiness.

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