Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Friday the Army will buy some of the world’s most expensive armor, a system that the Pentagon calls a “weapon system” and a “siege weapon.”
But it’s a system the Army can’t afford, according to Pentagon officials, because of a long-standing problem with the technology: The armor is more expensive than the equipment it replaces.
The $1.4 billion Armor Enhanced Combatant (ACE) System is a $1 trillion, $400 billion investment that the Army expects to be ready by the end of next year, with the first batch of equipment to be delivered in 2021.
But it will be more expensive to make than the Pentagon has been able to manufacture, Carter said in announcing the order.
The Army will get new armor for infantry, artillery and armor fighting vehicles, and will use that equipment to build its own version of the system.
It’s expected to cost about $1 billion to make.
The Pentagon’s ARMAV-III program is expected to buy 10,000 armored vehicles and 5,000 weapons.
The program was first announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in April 2016.
But the cost to build the new armor was estimated to be $6 billion.
The armor will replace a program that was supposed to cost $30 billion.
“There is no reason to be making this program more expensive,” Carter said.
The ARMAVS is part of the Army’s larger $700 billion Global Strike force, which is tasked with fighting a global war on terror, cyberwar, and other challenges.
Carter announced the ARMAVs order as he sought to highlight the importance of the ARGSS program to the military.
“The ARGSAV program is not just an investment in our nation’s ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century, it is also an investment into our Nation’s readiness for a 21st-century world,” Carter wrote.
The DOD has been working on a new armored vehicle that will be used in the future to protect America’s military bases, and Carter said the ARMV-II system is a critical component to that effort.
The new armor system, called the ARMAG, is the second of three armor upgrades to the ARSV-I program.
The first is a new armor package that will replace the armor that the ARMSV-1 was built on.
The next armor package is the ARAGM-1 that replaces the armor currently being used by the ARV-2 program.
And the final armor upgrade will be the ARARG-2, Carter wrote, which will replace both the current ARV1 and ARV2.
“We know that if we can make this armor, we can be prepared to defeat the challenges that lie ahead,” Carter told reporters.
The Navy and Air Force have already started working on the new system, which they expect to be in service by 2021.
“While the ARMMV-V program may be the most complex of the new programs in ARMA, we will be working to develop a comprehensive system that addresses the complex requirements of the joint force of modern, emerging and advanced military forces,” Carter added.