MAJOR GENERAL PETER C. FRANKLIN
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the U.S. Army's aviation modernization program. It is my privilege to represent the Army leadership, the civilian and military members of the Army acquisition workforce, and, most importantly, America's soldiers.
Modern equipment and technological superiority is required to lead our soldiers into the 21st Century. The Army's aviation modernization strategy is an aggressive, comprehensive program designed to maximize the combat effectiveness of aviation assets across the full spectrum of the Army XXI and Army After Next (AAN) battlefields. Aviation provides combat, combat support, combat service support, and special operations across the spectrum of full-dimensional operations. These forces provide increased speed, range of fire and maneuver, and mobility of troops and equipment in support of operations from war to stability and support.
Air Cavalry/Reconnaissance units provide the tactical commander critical combat
information, early warning, and force protection. Attack helicopter units provide a
lethal force capable of delivering precision fires in the close battle or deep into enemy
territory. Utility and cargo helicopter units provide tactical air movement of
combat forces and their assets and allow commanders and their staffs to command, rapidly
traverse, and see the battlefield. Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) aircraft
perform front line medical evacuations. Special Operations Aviation (SOA) conducts
a broad spectrum of combat and combat support missions. Fixed wing aircraft conduct
operational airlift, intelligence and electronic warfare, and intratheater personnel and
cargo transportation. Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) provide
The strategy is dependent on achieving and maintaining information dominance, providing unparalleled tactical reconnaissance/security, and improving lethality to shape the battlespace and conduct decisive operations. Revitalized cargo and utility fleets are needed to project and sustain the force. All of these capabilities will be linked together by a digital architecture that will enable the commander to apply an appropriately sized, decisive combat force at the precise time and location that is needed to defeat the enemy.
Fiscal constraints have created a challenge for future modernization. Stretched developments and delayed procurements coupled with a focus on recapitalization of existing assets have resulted in a fleet of over 4500 aircraft in FY99, of which over 2000 aircraft average 27 years in age. With the exception of very limited UH-60 procurement, there are no new aircraft procurements to displace these aircraft until Comanche fielding begins in 2006. The age of the fleet is forcing the Army to address performance, digital compatibility, rising support costs, and training and personnel strategies. Problems associated with this aging fleet are compounded by battlefield digitization requirements and the interoperability challenges of an aviation force which frequently crosses division boundaries, conducts deep operations and requires joint airspace coordination.
Continued pressures on the defense budget have forced the Army to trade-off aviation
modernization requirements (given no increases in the research, development
Aviation's modernization strategy centers around four aviation platforms: the Comanche, the Apache, the CH-47F (formerly the Improved Cargo Helicopter) and the UH-60 Black Hawk, and is driven by five objectives. These are (1) solve Army Aviation's most critical battlefield deficiency--tactical reconnaissance and security, (2) maintain attack overmatch and world class attack helicopter capability into the 21st Century, (3) enhance Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C3I) and joint/combined interoperability through battlefield digitization, (4) recapitalize the aging utility, cargo, and fixed wing fleet until replacement is possible, and (5) develop technology underpinnings for Joint Vision 2010/AAN requirements. An overarching goal within this strategy is to reduce the number of different aircraft types, thereby reducing support costs, manpower, logistical requirements, and training burden.
The RAH-66 Comanche remains Army Aviation's highest priority providing leap ahead capabilities to enhance the Army's information dominance and combat overmatch. The Comanche with its revolutionary mission equipment package and advanced survivability and maintainability features will also solve Aviation's number one deficiencyarmed reconnaissance.
The Comanche, which executed its first flight in 1996, introduces major technological advances in the acquisition and processing of battlefield information, rotary wing signature reduction, and logistical support features. As one of the key systems of the joint digital battlefield, Comanche will provide accurate and timely response to the tactical commander's firepower or combat information needs and security for the fast paced, transitional forces of the future. The force protection provided by Comanche would be critical to meet emerging AAN requirements, which emphasize total force speed and range of maneuver. Comanche will also provide critical combat power during early/forced entry, and complement the Longbow Apache in a scout role by closing undetected to acquire targets.
The RAH-66 is one of the Army's two new developments, which will lead Aviation AAN. The current RAH-66 acquisition strategy, the Pre-Production Program (PPP), is to build six pre-production prototypes and eight IOTE aircraft during Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD). The reconnaissance and armament mission equipment packages (MEP) as well as the fire control radar (FCR) will be integrated and tested concurrently.
Recent advancements in antenna technology have provided an opportunity to integrate a smaller; more effective millimeter wave radar five years earlier than planned (FY04). Acceleration of the MEP development will also provide better communication capabilities supporting Army digitization efforts and participation in Force XXI. Full production and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is scheduled for Dec 2006 with the first six prototypes scheduled for procurement in FY03.
The RAH-66 prototype #1 is the primary air vehicle development aircraft and prototype #2 ("The Duke") is the primary mission equipment package development aircraft. "The Duke" will undergo acceptance flights in April 1999 and will be available to support air vehicle development in 1999-2000.
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior is a significant improvement over the OH-58A/C Kiowa and AH-1 Cobra and serves as the interim scout/reconnaissance and light attack aircraft until Comanche is fielded. Kiowa Warrior, however, falls far short of mission requirements. It is simply not cost effective to upgrade the Kiowa Warrior to address major deficiencies in weapons payload, speed, endurance, IR/RF signature, aircraft survivability equipment, and ballistic protection against small arms fire. Since the Kiowa Warrior is projected to remain in the fleet until after FY 2022 additional safety, sustainment and capability enhancements (including digitization upgrades) are programmed for selected aircraft beginning in 1999. Initiatives to cascade AH-64A to the strategic reserve to displace the OH-58Ds are being reviewed. If successful, these initiatives would accelerate the retirement of the OH-58Ds.
The AH-1 Cobra, with the exception of approximately 70 C-NITE equipped aircraft, lacks the capability to operate effectively at night and in reduced visibility. All AH-1 aircraft have inadequate flight performance for global operations, are not capable of adequate threat stand-off against air defense threats and are not compatible with the digital battlefield. Initiatives to accelerate AH-1 retirement by replacing them with AH-64A Apaches in Strategic Reserve reconnaissance units and attack battalions are being reviewed. The objective is to further accelerate AH-1 retirement with minimum risk to the warfighting force.
The Army Airborne Command and Control System (A2C2S) will enhance information dominance and help achieve Army Aviation's third objectiveenhancing command, control, and communications. The A2C2S, installed in an UH-60A Black Hawk, will serve as a corps, division, or maneuver brigade commander's airborne tactical command post. It features situational awareness that fosters a commander's common view of the battlefield and voice/data equipment that provides battlefield information processing and connectivity equivalent to ground tactical command posts and the Battle Command Vehicle.
Other digitization programs enhancing information dominance include the following: The AN/ARC-220 High Frequency Radio allows non-line-of-sight (voice and limited data) communications between the aviator and commander/Tactical Operations Center (TOC). The Aviation Mission Planning System (AMPS) provides automated mission planning, rehearsal, synchronization, and transfer of essential mission data to aircraft systems. The Aviation Tactical Operations Center (AVTOC), funded only for the Force XXI initial digitized divisions/Corps, provides Aviation brigade, battalion, and separate company commanders the capability to plan, control, and report aviation operations. The integration of the Improved Data Modem/Embedded Battle Command (IDM/EBC) software functionality onto aviation platforms will provide linkage to the digital battlefield.
Future digitization and modernization requirements exceed the capacity of current aircraft communications architectures. These future requirements will be met by the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), which will incorporate the Enhanced Position, Location, Reporting System (EPLRS) functionality and waveforms.
The Tactical Airspace Integration System (TAIS) is linked to the Army Tactical Command and Control System (ATCCS) and the USAF Contingency Theater Automated Planning System (CTAPS), providing joint airspace management and airspace deconfliction with other combat arms. Future plans for a new air traffic architecture are based upon satellite-based navigation, increased use of data links rather than voice for pilot/controller communications, and improved surveillance for enhanced ground and cockpit situational awareness. To avoid potential flight restrictions, the Army must address necessary aircraft modifications for future OCONUS/CONUS civil airspace compliance.
Logistics digitization objectives include consolidating the Unit Level Logistics System-Aviation (ULLS-A), Soldier Portable On-site Repair Tool (SPORT), and an Integrated Electronic Technical Manual (IETM) into a single laptop computer with a CD-ROM. The intent is for this system to interface with the unfunded Digital Source Collector (DSC)/Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) to enhance preventive maintenance and diagnostics. The aviation implementation of the Global Combat Support System Army (GCSS-Army) maintenance module will provide a streamlined and automated method to reduce the workload of the aviation maintainer and the associated administrative support function.
Aviation combat overmatch programs give the Army heavy attack helicopter technological superiority well into the 21st Century. Although the attack mission is currently performed by three different aircraft, the AH-64D Longbow Apache is the Army's objective heavy attack aircraft. The AH-64D's purpose is to destroy enemy forces by conducting deep, hasty and deliberate attacks, air assault security operations, and rear security.
The Longbow Apache is a remanufactured AH-64A with precision inertial and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation, enhanced displays and crew stations, structural upgrades, digital communications, modifications to allow each aircraft to fire the RF Hellfire missile, and aircraft reliability improvements. Part of the fleet is equipped with the Longbow Weapon System, which consist of the Longbow Millimeter Wave (MMW) radar, Radar Frequency Interferometer (RFI), and upgraded engines. The radar automatically detects, classifies, and prioritizes targets for handover to the fire and forget Longbow Hellfire missile, significantly increasing survivability, rates of fire, and adverse weather capability. The Longbow Apache program: (1) Addresses the digital connectivity requirements for Army XXI, (2) Improves the AH-64As workload intensive mission equipment, and (3) Provides significant supportability enhancements, which will save millions of dollars over the life of the aircraft.
Current and future AH-64 tactical employment mandates the need for a higher resolution Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensor for pilotage and visual target detection/identification. Historical experience also indicates that the current FLIR is the highest maintenance demand subsystem on the aircraft. The Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) initiates a Horizontal Technology Insertion Second Generation FLIR program for the AH-64.
Current funding for Longbow Apache allows for remanufacture of 530 of the 748 AH-64As into the AH-64Ds by 2005. The FCR and RFI are funded for 227 of the AH-64Ds. Analysis/discussions are currently ongoing as to the quantity of AH-64Ds to remanufacture and quantity of Longbow Weapon Systems to procure. If 218 of the 748 AH-64As are not remanufactured, a modernization/life extension effort must be programmed in the outyears as these aircraft will not be fully retired until the 2020 timeframe. Initiatives are also under consideration to accelerate AH-1 retirement. However, additional analysis is required to assess the doctrinal and warfighting impact of these plans (particularly for first-to-fight units).
As Comanche with FCR is fielded as the scout aircraft in heavy division/corps attack battalions in the far-term, AH-64D aircraft will cascade to lower priority units, bringing their total AH-64D numbers back up to the doctrinal level of 24 aircraft per battalion. Fielding the RAH-66 Comanche as the scout aircraft in these heavy division/corps attack battalions and as the light division attack aircraft will provide a survivable aircraft with the speed, range, payload, and logistical supportability features required by these units.
Other aviation combat overmatch programs include the Longbow HELLFIRE missile which permits precision engagements by AH-64D and RAH-66 in weather/battlefield obscurants. The Longbow HELLFIRE missile uses the HELLFIRE II missile bus and warhead, and incorporates a millimeter wave seeker. Production of the Longbow HELLFIRE began in FY97. Approximately 13,000 Longbow HELLFIRE will be procured through FY03, short of the requirement for the AH-64D and RAH-66. The Block II Stinger (FUE 2007) will improve air-to-air missile performance against targets in clutter. A requirements document for a low cost, "off the shelf" Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) guided munition (to complement the Hydra-70 family of rockets and provide a more capable means of defeating soft or lightly armored targets in clutter and urban terrain) is in the final approval stages. In the mid term, RAH-66 Comanche missile requirements and laser HELLFIRE shelf life extension must be addressed.
The Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE) programs include Radio Frequency (RF) and Infrared (IR) devices to detect and defeat threat anti-aircraft systems, and Electro Optical (EO) systems to detect lasers. As Army Aviation continues to modernize, aircraft systems must have the necessary ASE items installed at the production line or via field retrofit. The Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasure System/Common Missile Warning System (ATIRCM/CMWS) and Suite of Integrated Radar Frequency Countermeasures (SIRFC) are the two most critical ASE programs for Army aviation. They provide necessary situational awareness, improved target identification, interfaces for digital target handover, missionized electronic order of battle, and substantially improved effectiveness against current and projected air defense threats.
The SIRFC provides aircraft RF Warning, RF Jamming, situational awareness and sensor fusion. Due to limited funding, installation of SIRFC on the AH-64D will not begin until FY06. SIRFC installation has been deferred until beyond FY 2005 for all aircraft except SOA, risking vulnerability in the near term against threat systems. SIRFC is programmed primarily for the AH-64D and SOA aircraft, but will also be utilized by the UH-60 and CH-47. There is also multi-service interest in the SIRFC: SOCOM/Navy (CV-22), Air Force (U-2), and Marine Corps (AH-1Z and UH-1N).
Comanche is equipped with laser warning and radar warning protection and, coupled with its low observable (LO) features, may not require additional ASE. If threat technology neutralizes the LO, there are space, weight, and configuration provisions for SIRFC and ATIRCM.
The Aircrew Integrated Systems (ACIS) program encompasses those items of equipment that are used to protect, sustain, and enhance the survivability and performance of Army aircrews and passengers throughout the flight profile. Cockpit Airbags (CABS) will be installed in Force Modernization platforms and will enhance the survivability of the aircrew as well as reduce potential injuries and fatalities. The Air Warrior program develops a modular, tailorable aviator ensemble for rotary wing aircraft crewmembers. Its aim is to reduce the aviator's equipment weight and volume to lessen the physical burden, improve safety and survivability, aircrew and aircrew station interface to enhance the aviator's ability to accomplish the mission.
Subsystem programs, which feed Air Warrior, include: Aircrew Integrated Common Helmet, Helmet Mounted Display, Laser Protective Visor, Magnetic Head Tracker System, the Aircrew Microclimate Cooling System, and an Electronic Kneeboard. The Virtual Cockpit Optimization Program (VCOP) demonstrates the integration of independently developed and advanced technologies across multiple platforms into a single system to deliver information to the pilot in a concise and intuitive manner. Technologies include: Three Dimensional Audio; Full-color, High-resolution Helmet Mounted Display; Imagery speech recognition and synthesis; Integrated Caution, Warning, Advisory information; Threat warnings; Intelligent information management; and Crew-aided cognitive decision aides that will be incorporated into a product available across all Army Aviation platforms.
In order for the Army to revitalize its utility fleet to project and sustain the force several compelling modernization requirements must be addressed. The Utility Helicopter fleet must be modernized to meet its missions of air assault, general support, command and control, and aeromedical evacuation on the Force XXI and AAN battlefields of the next century.
Utility helicopters are the Army's workhorses, flying over 40% of annual total Army flying hours. The Utility Helicopter Fleet presently consists of both UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-1 Iroquois aircraft, and it is globally deployed including current and recent activity in Bosnia, Kuwait, and the Hurricane Mitch Relief effort in Central America. The Utility Fleet is the largest of the Army's aviation fleets, with 907 UH-60A Black Hawk, 451 UH-60L Black Hawk, 4 UH-60Q Black Hawk, and 809 resourced UH-1 Iroquois aircraft at the end of FY98. The FYDP funds 89 of the 90 Black Hawks required for the Army National Guard's dual missioning requirement with the additional Black Hawk competing in the Program Objective Memorandum. The objective end state for the UH-1 fleet is 756 by the end of FY01. The sheer size of this fleet makes sustainment and modernization a significant fiscal challenge.
The utility fleet is an aging fleet, designed to meet Vietnam and Cold War era requirements. UH-1s were produced from 1959 to 1974, UH-60As were produced from 1978 to 1988, and UH-60Ls started production in 1989. The aging UH-60As and the UH-1s are experiencing a decrease in operational readiness and an increase in operating costs. These older analog-based aircraft were also not designed to meet the challenges of Force XXI and AAN. This combination of aging aircraft, decreasing operational readiness, and emerging new operational requirements led the Army to conduct a fleet modernization analysis to determine the appropriate course of action for the utility helicopter fleet.
Currently, a third of the UH-60 fleet is over 15 years old. In the next five years, the UH-60 fleet will continue to age and two-thirds of the fleet will exceed 15 years of age. By 2025, the average age of today's UH-60 fleet will be 38 years. The UH-1 fleet averages 28 years of age today with the most recently produced UH-1 being over 24 years old. Parts obsolescence and aging airframes are a recurring theme for these older aircraft. As airframes age and parts become obsolete, readiness rates decline. These aging aircraft become a victim of obsolescence, safety issues and higher operations and sustainment costs, with the indicator being deterioration of operational readiness.
This decay in operational readiness is already evident. Specifically, a comparison of the total Army operational readiness (OR) rates for the older UH-60A and newer UH-60L shows the newer UH-60L aircraft have significantly better mission capable (MC) rates than the older UH-60A. This difference is primarily driven by the aging propulsion/drivetrain systems in the UH-60A. It is only a precursor of what the Army can expect in the future. While the UH-60L has a newer propulsion and drivetrain system, in 15 years it is likely to experience the same problems as the UH-60A. Parts obsolescence will also be a major contributor to decaying operational readiness in the future.
The impact on operational readiness is even more dramatic when examining the UH-1. The total Army UH-1 fleet, operating in both utility and light utility roles, has experienced a decline of over 20% in operational readiness rates over the past five years. The most recent downturns in readiness are also attributable to the propulsion/drivetrain systems, specifically the spur gear. Also, the aging fleet and the increasing readiness problems require increased vigilance concerning the likelihood of safety of flight issues that could emerge in the future. Problems such as the spur gear are a dramatic indicator that the UH-1 fleet will be increasingly difficult to maintain.
Turning to the future, the demands of Force XXI and AAN on the utility fleet leads to an evolution of requirements. These requirements revolve around the need for increased lift, range, digitization and reduced O&S costs. Currently, none of the UH-60As, UH-60Ls, and UH-1s are capable of meeting emerging mission lift requirements, nor will they be digitized. Unless the Army modernizes and extends the life of these platforms, the utility helicopter crew members of the future will be trying to meet Force XXI and AAN requirements using Vietnam and Cold War era aircraft, with associated growing operations and sustainment cost burdens.
Affordability constraints within both Aviation and the Army previously precluded addressing the future of the utility fleet. However, the combination of an aging fleet, decaying readiness, and new operational requirements necessitated the fleet modernization analysis. This recently concluded Helicopter Fleet Modernization Analysis addressed how to best meet these challenges. The analysis was led by a General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC) which reached consensus recommendations for the path ahead. These recommendations are currently under review and will serve as an entry point into Army development of future budgets.
In summary, the Utility Fleet Modernization Analysis has now provided a direction for
modernization and recapitalization of the utility helicopter fleet to meet Force XXI and
AAN battlefield requirements.
The CH-47D modernization program extended the aircraft useful economic life of the original CH-47A/B/C by approximately 20 years; but the aircraft remanufacture point will be reached in FY 2002. To recapture lift and range requirements lost over years of aircraft modifications, an upgrade to the T55-GA-714A engine is currently underway. The engine upgrade program has been plagued by budget instability resulting from competing requirements and other DoD funding requirements. Funds are required for the engine upgrade program to ramp up to a more cost effective production rate of 180 per year. Life extension efforts will be centered on the CH-47F Improved Cargo Helicopter (ICH) program by extending aircraft life through vibration reduction, structural modifications, and addition of a minimum essential digital cockpit for Army XXI digitization compatibility. The objective is to modernize a minimum of 300 CH-47Ds through an ICH remanufacture with a service life extension program until a replacement system, the Joint Transport Rotorcraft (JTR) is procured in the 2020 timeframe.
The CH-47F ICH Program commenced EMD in May 98 and First Unit Equipped is scheduled for Sep 04. Milestone III is Jan 2004 and full production with a peak rate of 26-30 aircraft per year will be through 2014. A growing gap between the availability of the first JTR and the production of the last CH-47F ICH, in addition to the need to perform a SLEP on the MH-47D Special Operations Aircraft, will necessitate the evaluation of modifying greater than 300 CH-47D aircraft into the CH-47F or a CH-47F+ configuration.
The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Safety Enhancement Program (SEP) installs the R-3 engine, crashworthy seats, cockpit airbags, improved mission processors, GPS, IDM, and tactical internet compatible radios.
Other aviation recapitalization includes the modernization of tactical and fixed base Air Traffic Services (ATS) to replace the oldest most antiquated equipment in the Army aviation inventory. Modern tactical ATS equipment will be highly mobile, reliable and completely digital. The Army is also playing a prominent role in the ongoing modernization of the National Airspace System.
RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
Aviation is supported by a robust Science and Technology (S&T) program fully aligned with Joint Vision 2010 and AAN timelines. The S&T program supports development of new systems/concepts and upgrades of existing rotorcraft. The program is executed through the conduct of Basic Research Strategic Research Objectives (SRO), Applied Research, and Advanced Technology Development and Demonstrations. Detailed descriptions of these programs are contained in the Army's Science and Technology Master Plan.
The Aviation S&T program consists of efforts focused on developing and demonstrating technologies for advanced rotors, transmissions, structures/airframes, weapons integration, engines, survivability, cockpit/mission equipment packages, and flight controls. The major S&T programs for Aviation, support a three pronged strategy: (1) development of a Joint Transport Rotorcraft (JTR), (2) support for AAN rotary wing concepts and (3) potential technology insertions for Comanche, Apache and Black Hawk.
The Joint Transport Rotorcraft (JTR) is the planned replacement for CH-47F ICH and CH-53 helicopters. JTR also supports AAN concepts for the cargo/troop transport needs of a "Battle Force" for the FY20-25 future. Finally, JTR has the potential to serve as the replacement for the United States Navy/Marine Corps (USMC) CH-53 Super Stallion. The JTR will demand significant warfighting performance advancements in range, speed, payload, survivability, mobility, and at reduced acquisition and O&S costs. These advancements will result from technology improvements in structures, cruise efficiency, specific fuel consumption, maneuverability/agility, signature management and subsystems.
Potential technology insertions to the RAH-66 Comanche and AH-64D Longbow Apache in support of the evolving digital battlefield will include the Virtual Cockpit Optimization Program (VCOP) crew station enhancements, advanced pilotage/displays (such as Virtual Retinal Display technology), vehicle management, and interoperability between manned and unmanned scout/attack teams. Future needs require significant technology improvements in cognitive decision aids, sensor fusion, displays/symbology, and enhanced processing for voice and data communications.
New lift and range requirements for the UH-60X Black Hawk, AH-64 Apache
and Navy CH-60 are driving the development of a 3000 shaft horsepower engine. The unfunded
Common Engine Program would use Joint Turbine Air Gas Generator program technology to
demonstrate an engine capable of lifting 9000 pounds under high/hot environmental
conditions with 25 percent less fuel consumption and at 20 percent reduced operation and
MEDEVAC, fixed wing utility aircraft, and training/simulation initiatives are primary contributing capability programs for aviation. The UH-60A MEDEVAC significant limitations in meeting its assigned missions: sustainment of casualties over extended distances, shore to ship evacuation, supporting combat search and rescue, and patient regulating. Additionally, the UH-60A MEDEVAC is not capable of functioning on the digitized battlefield or using telemedicine technology. Modernization of the UH-60A to the UH-60Q configuration includes medical equipment upgrades (telemedicine, enhanced MEDEVAC kit, built-in rescue hoist, onboard oxygen generator), digital communications (data bus, HF radio, SINCGARS SIP), and navigation equipment (GPS, FLIR). Funding for the UH-60Q program begins in FY02. An ongoing initiative to incorporate both the UH-60Q program and the UH-60A SLEP, also programmed to begin in FY02, would provide a more capable aircraft for the MEDEVAC mission as well as reduce the overall program cost by combining the programs into one effort.
The Army's Fixed Wing fleet consists of 300 aircraft. There are 9 different aircraft types and 25 configurations. The goal is to streamline the fleet to 5 different aircraftshort-range (C12), medium-range (UC35), and long- range (C20) utility as well as cargo (C23) and Special Electronic Mission (SEMA) aircraft (RC12 and RC7). The fleet's mission is to rapidly transport the country's key leaders in time of war and peace and to provide critical intelligence to Army Corps Commanders. The Army currently has a requirement of 67 for its number one fixed wing modernization prioritythe UC35 Cessna Citation medium-range utility jet. The UC35 replaces older and more expensive C12s and is Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) compliant. Also the Army's long-range jet requirement remains at 13 with 4 on hand. The 44 C23 Sherpa aircraft fill the cargo requirement, and the Army's 56 RC12s and 9 RC7s fill the SEMA role. On the horizon is the Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) which will replace both the RC12 and RC7. All Army Fixed Wing maintenance is currently Contractor Logistics Support (CLS).
The Comanche and Longbow Apache helicopters solve reconnaissance and attack deficiencies; they remain Army aviation's major focus to correct critical warfighting shortfalls. However, a service life extension for the UH-60, UH-1, and CH-47D, upgrade of UH-1 aircraft to fill the warfight LUH requirement, initiation of the fixed wing investment strategy, and attention to Strategic Reserve fleet obsolescence are equally important to a balanced strategy. Modernization of our core programs (avionics, aircraft survivability equipment, aviation life support equipment, air traffic services, and aviation support equipment) is essential to the support and sustainment of our aircraft programs and compatibility with the digital battlefield of the future.