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Washington Post

April 30, 2019

Long-range precision fires, attack and reconnaissance aircraft and air defense add to the Army Secretary’s weapons wish list for future fights against peer adversaries.

Secretary Mark Esper discussed how upcoming weapons and technology can help U.S. forces keep a field advantage during a briefing at the Pentagon earlier this month.

According to Defense One, Esper said he’s repositioning efforts designed to aid the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to speed development of systems that can penetrate Chinese and Russian defenses. At the same time, the Army is rotating thousands of soldiers in expeditionary deployments across the Pacific.

Esper has spoken to military leaders in the Pacific and plans to brief European leaders, too.

He said long-range artillery upgrades could help keep Chinese ships at bay. New aircraft, like Bell’s V-280 Valor or the Boeing-Sikorsky SB>1 Defiant, could eventually help aviators evade enemy surface-to-air and air-to-air defense.

The Valor and Defiant are currently competing to be one of the Army’s next generation helicopters, one of several new helicopters and vehicles currently in the works.

Money for those newer programs have come from several other development programs, including upgrades to the CH-47 Chinook and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Esper said those programs were developed for conflicts like those in Iraq and Afghanistan and not perfectly suited for a fight against a major nation’s military.

“What I don’t have right now is an attack reconnaissance aircraft,” the secretary said. “That’s what I need to penetrate Russian or Chinese air defenses. I’m not going to do that with a CH-47.”

The Defense Department has freed $25 billion for investment in its new goals by cutting or reducing nearly 200 modernization projects.