Opening Statement (As Prepared)

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I join in thanking our witnesses for appearing today.

The Army’s recently announced rebalancing effort for aviation encompasses various programs that impact the rotary-wing and tilt-rotor industrial base across the United States. Of most importance, however, is whether these decisions align with the Army’s requirements and the broader force design strategy. I recognize that we can’t yet speak to information that’s in the soon-to-be-released President’s Budget Request for fiscal year 2025, however; I believe there is lots to discuss here regarding these decisions.

I’d like to lead with strong support for the Army’s decision to move into production of the CH-47F Block 2 Chinook helicopter. The Chinook is an immensely impressive aircraft and will only deliver more capability with these Block 2 improvements. Moreover, this decision mitigates emerging risk in the Philadelphia area aviation industrial base due to planned conclusion of V-22 Osprey’s production. I look forward to receiving the budget request in the next week or so and evaluating how the Army intends to procure CH-47F Block 2 aircraft over the next 5-years and beyond.

Turning to the Army’s decision to end development of the Future Attack and Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA”). The Army has spent approximately $2 billion developing this program. That’s a lot of money for a program that won’t field. I can’t help but note that this is the Army’s third attempt at developing and fielding this capability. So, I guess the question we need answered today is:
What’s changed over the last year that led to this decision? I hope today that General Rainey can speak to the requirements and any emerging analysis that informed the decision, and then explain how the Army intends to provide a capability for vertical lift armed reconnaissance. I also hope that Assistant Secretary Bush can help this subcommittee better understand what return, if any, the taxpayers will see on their investment. How will we leverage what we’ve learned through FARA to better develop and field the capabilities that the Army needs?  

As a subset to the FARA decision, but impacting multiple programs, the Army announced that they will delay development and procurement of the Improved Turbine Engine. This makes sense given the cancelation of the FARA development effort, however; we need to better understand the plan for ITEP integration into the Blackhawk and Apache fleets. Will the Army move these development and integration timelines forward, or do you intend to pause the entire effort pending further analysis?

Lastly, the venerable Blackhawk helicopter. I am very happy to see that the Army intends to move forward with another multi-year procurement contract for this aircraft, beginning in fiscal year 27 and spanning, hopefully, five years. Given the Army’s decision to simultaneously cancel the UH-60V program, which largely supports the National Guard, can you please confirm that the Guard will instead receive new UH-60M aircraft? Moreover, because of cancelling the UH-60V program, does the Army intend to incorporate any of those capabilities into the UH-60M?  

We often think of programmatic decisions only impacting the prime contractors, but we must also remember that there is an entire ecosystem of sub-tier contractors, often small businesses, some of whom live and die based on these types of decisions; and once we lose a supplier it’s incredibly hard to find a replacement source. Stability in the industrial base matters – and I’d like to offer to our witnesses today that I think you’ve made hard decisions here, but that you’ve done an admirable job of stabilizing the broader industrial base, so I thank you for the thoughtfulness that went into your aviation rebalancing effort.

In closing, this hearing is timely and important. The Army wants to make big decisions regarding its aviation community, and it’s our job now to evaluate those decisions and then approve, modify, or deny. As I’ve stated, I think you’ve done a good job managing industrial base concerns, but what we really need to best understand here today is how these decisions fit into a broader strategy for the Army in terms of delivering a sufficient capacity of the right capabilities to the combatant commanders.

I thank the witnesses for being here today and look forward to their testimony.

I yield back.