Pentagon Asks Congress to Shift $4.7 Billion for a More Lethal Army

(Bloomberg) -- The Pentagon is asking Congress to shift $4.7 billion in previously approved spending for this year, with some of the funds going to provide more lethal gear for the Army, including night-vision goggles and long-range cannons.

In a reprogramming request submitted to Congress, the Pentagon’s comptroller also asks for funds for developing and fielding the U.S.’s first hypersonic offensive weapons and for projects in South Korea, including $81 million for the training of U.S. units rotating there and the transportation of equipment. An additional $3.9 million is requested to assist the headquarters relocation of U.S. Forces Korea from its current location at Yongsan to Camp Humphreys, an Army garrison in South Korea, and for increased cybersecurity preparedness.

The annual “omnibus reprogramming request,” intended to transfer funds from projects considered a lower priority, must be approved by all four congressional defense panels to take effect.

One of the biggest requests is for $70 million as a first payment toward a $1.7 billion project to set up a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which would support both combat operations and business management functions for all of the military services.

Among the items for which funds would be shifted:

  • $46 million to start a Deep Strike Cannon Artillery System technology demonstration program. It’s part of the Army’s Long-Range Precision Strike initiative, the service’s No. 1 modernization priority.
  • $104.5 million to buy 3,609 pairs of new enhanced night-vision goggles that soldiers also use for aiming weapons in the dark. Army Secretary Mark Esper, a former foot soldier, wants to spend an eventual $278 million for the devices.
  • $20 million so the Air Force can accelerate development and deployment of a prototype for a “Hypersonic Conventional Strike” air-launched glide munition, with a first test flight in late fiscal 2020. An additional $65 million is requested to accelerate demonstration of a land-launched version. Hypersonic weapons can travel five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.
  • $291 million to buy from 91 additional Stryker infantry transport vehicles from General Dynamics Corp. with V-shaped underbellies designed to better deflect the blast of improvised explosives.
  • $363 million to buy as many as 100 more of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s most advanced Patriot missile defense interceptors enhanced to allow the weapons to fly higher altitudes at greater speeds.

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