Transcript: Media Roundtable with Douglas Bush, ASA for AL&T, September 19, 2023

By U.S. Army Public AffairsSeptember 21, 2023

Moderator: Ellen Lovett, OCPA Media Relations Division

Douglas R. Bush: Well, hey, thanks everybody for coming. I know obviously it's a lot going on in the world but thank you for spending some time with the Army today. So, I'll just cover two broad topics and hit a few high points up front. One--first set of issues is just regarding just Army modernization programs. So, kind of my day-to-day job I do for the Army and highlight a few recent successes, but also happy to talk about areas where we've had some challenges.

In the success category, I would point to the Integrated Battle Command System full rate production, which we made that decision back in June. That's game changing for the air defense community and many years in coming. I don't know how many of you remember that program way back, but I was working as a staffer in 2012. So, we finally got there. That's a big deal for the Army.

The work we've done on IVAS. So, this is IVAS 1.2. We fundamentally reengineered the system to be a better fit for soldiers in how they do their infantry mission, in terms of how they wear it, while also improving some of the technology problems with sensors and software. So, it's early, but early returns from some initial testing with soldiers at Ford Drum was very positive. That gave me confidence to move to the next step in the rapid prototyping program for this. We are, though, going in a step-by-step fashion. We're gonna develop, test, develop, test, develop, test, before and gather a body of knowledge that gives us confidence in the system before we get into actual production, especially production at scale. So, it is a bit of different approach than the first time around, but I think early returns are positive, which is a good thing to see.

Mid-range capability. So, this is the Army getting back in the business of having large land-based missiles, which we used to be in that business. We're getting back into it. This is SM-6 and Tomahawk land based, and we had our first two successful launches from the system. These were not full-up operational tests, but close to operational tests that gave us confidence to actually go into fielding later this year for the system. So, the units established, we have launchers. I was just out at Joint Base Lewis McCord, went to the motor pool, talked to the soldiers, saw the system. I think the Army's done remarkable work to take two Navy missiles -- so, we didn't reinvent the wheel here, but turn them into a land-based thing, which gives commanders just one more option for attacking difficult land based targets and ships. So, again, kind of a little more of a quiet success story on MRC, but a big one.

AMPV full rate production. Another program from long ago. So, I remember the original argument was wheels or tracks for this mission. The Army finally settled on tracks, but we finally got there. So, BAE, our partner, working with them. It's really five different variants, so it's really five different vehicles. But that full rate production decision, a major step for the Army to finally start replacing M113s as rapidly as possible. The 113 has been a good vehicle, but it's out of date. We would probably not deploy it. It wasn't used in our previous two conflicts. So, soldiers need something better and this vehicle is much better. And we are finally in full-rate production.

The M1E3 announcement. So, I'm sure many of you heard that. We didn't do a media roundtable around it, but we put it out. This is just a changing approach on modernizing the M1. So, it's still gonna be an M1 tank, but a dramatically different M1 than what we had planned in terms of going to the V4. So, we'll continue V3 production, maybe with some additional upgrades. We have to maintain the industrial base. But the M1E3 announcement and then subsequent work is a big deal for the Army.

Contract award for XM30, we have two vendors now, General Dynamics and Rheinmetall. So, that thing went from the hypothetical to now, the very serious and very real. We luckily didn't have a protest, so we are moving out full speed. Those two partners are gonna make real prototypes, real vehicles over the next couple of years. And then finally, we recently did a production qualification test. This is--you do a small amount of production from the vendor and you do some more testing on the XM7 and the XM250. This is the new rifle, the 6.8-millimeter rifle and automatic rifle. So, on this one, this is PQT. But early returns, again, very positive that our partner SIG SAUER, can make the weapons address some of the small issues we had with accuracy and fumes from the rounds identified early in developmental testing. We saw great progress on all the challenging areas. So not declaring victory there, but a really good sign of progress. And this weapon is a fundamental, again, fundamental leap of capability for infantry forces to engage enemy units, enemy at range with this rifle compared to what they have now. So, this would be a big deal for the infantry community.

On Ukraine, I'll get to specifics through your questions, I hope. I would just, though, I was relooking the numbers overall, and this is as of September 13th, so actually a little out of date, but the Army to date has received $17 billion in funding to replenish equipment that we sent to Ukraine. So, this is replenishing what we provided. Ten billion of that is already on contract. So that's in about a year. And in terms of scale for the Army, a normal procurement year for the Army is about 20 billion. So, this is a massive amount of additional funding on top of the normal system. And that on contract number is there because of really terrific work across the Army and help from Congress, really important, and support from OSD to go faster than normal to get those replenishment contracts done. Within that number, in some ways, there's also $3 billion that has been put on contract with industry to increase production capacity. So, this is 155, GMLRS, HIMARS, Javelin, Stinger, even 777 tubes. That's $3 billion the US Army has put on contract with industry to support increasing production rates.

But let me finish up. So, I think those numbers attest to the Army is moving the money. Industry is getting the contracts. I think we're working well with them. But anyone saying that the Army is not getting this money on contracts so we can produce just doesn't have the facts. So, with that said, on Ukraine, of course a million things going on there that I'm sure you can ask about if you'd like to. So, I'd rather just kind of do that as we get questions.

And then, alas, I was told to make sure I made the pitch. Obviously, you know, AUSA is coming up. Of course, I'll be there the whole time and working with Jamal, please. I've got some events, but also, I want to do as much just individual media things as I can on specific topics so we can make the event useful for you guys. So, you can gather information from Army leaders, including me. But there's a bunch of good events. The Under is gonna do a thing on digital transformation. My Principal Deputy, Mr. Bang, is gonna do a thing focused on data. And then I'm doing my forum with General Rainey on just overall Army modernization. So, I think it'll be a good event. So, with that, I will take questions.

EL: Thank you, sir. Jen Judson, are you on the line?

Jen Judson: I know that a decision on sending ATACMS to Ukraine is forthcoming, but can you elaborate on whether these ATACMS could be the cluster capable variants. Is that under consideration? And if ATACMS are sent, could this potentially mean replenishment to the Army with PrSM and not additional ATACMS? How's the Army considering replenishment of this if these go to Ukraine?

DRB: So, with regard to a decision, that, of course, is not an Army decision. Ultimately the president owns that authority. The Army has been providing data to decision makers, and they'll make that decision at the right level with the right information. With regard to the hypothetical, if ATACMS were provided, the Army would likely try to use funding instead of going back and making ATACMS to instead produce additional early versions of PrSM Increment One if we got to that point, because that's, of course, the missile we want to go to. It's better than ATACMS and ATACMS is still a very good system. But that would be our goal if we can pull that off.

JJ: Okay. Thank you.

EL: Oren Liebermann, do you have a question for us?

Oren Liebermann: Yeah, I have a very quick question. Mr. Bush, we've spoken before and then we actually recently talked to Bill LaPlante, and he said the goal for 155 was 80,000. And then just a few days ago he said--per month--and a few days ago he said 100,000. Could you explain to us how--what went into the thinking there, that suddenly 20,000 more a month and the capacity there?

DRB: I wouldn't say it was suddenly. So, I think this has happened in some stages. So, our initial plan last summer ended up kind of the top of the hypothetical curve was at around 80,000 a month. Since then, based on just demand from Ukraine and the need to replenish ourselves and our allies, we explored options to go higher. That's the number he used as a late in 2025 goal of 100,000 plus per month. So, I would say it evolved, but that was on purpose. And we haven't been completely public with every aspect of this. And I must say the dates, of course, these are goals. A lot of work to do to actually make that happen. So individual months here or there could move. But we are on path. We do have to still do some work getting additional resources approved by Congress to enable all that. But those conversations are happening.

OL: Given how fast this number has risen, could it rise again above 100,000 a month, do you think?

DRB: Hypothetically, if we were asked to. But kind of the demand signal, so to speak, is not mine to determine. Really, the Army and others in OSD are looking at those numbers and kind of give us the mission.

OL: Thank you, sir.

EL: David Martin, CBS. Were you able to join?

Ellee Watson: Hey, Ellen, it's Ellee. David didn't join, but I will ask a question for us. And I'm sorry we missed the top of Mr. Bush's remarks. So sorry if you already addressed this, but on the ATACMS, there was some reporting, I think two weeks ago that additional ATACMS may have been found, additional supply that hadn't previously been considered. Is that the case? And if so, does that make the decision easier because the argument against giving ATACMS was that all the contingencies relied on ATACMS? Thank you.

DRB: Well, there was nothing found. That implies that something was not kept track of and that was not the case. Of course, we know exactly how many we have and exactly where they are and exactly what types they are. I think there are different versions of ATACMS. And I think that is just part of the conversation that would inform a senior leader of making the final decision. But nothing was lost or not accounted for. So, it's really just a question of whether to provide them or not. If the decision is made, the Army is prepared to do that. Those risk judgments about stockpiles are made at the highest levels of the department, Secretary of the Army, the Chief of Staff, of course, provide their views into that decision matrix. But we were just providing all the facts and they had them. But as far as I'm aware, no final decision made yet.

EL: Ashley?

Ashley Roque: I wanted to go back to the assessment of ‘23 and ‘24 and just sort of get your take on where things stand. You highlighted some of the positives, even if some of them had fallen behind. But how about some of those others, like ERCA, IFPC, hypersonic. Can you just sort of walk us through where we stand on those?

DRB: Sure. So, kind of out of the list, I mean, the two that we didn't get to are--end of fiscal ’23--we are unlikely to get to our end of fiscal ‘23 goal in terms of actually fielding a fully functional thing would be ERCA and the LRHW. When you're trying to do this many things at once, having a few that slip a few months, not a huge surprise. And LRHW in particular, this is an equivalent of a major defense acquisition program. It is extremely complicated. It's an entirely new missile, new launcher, new fire control. So, if we stay on our revised testing plan and I think the Army has stated that our goal is now the end of the calendar year to get a fielded system with a test to validate it. I think three months in the grand scheme of things is not that big a deal. But that's for others to judge. Especially for a system this complicated. IFPC, I’m not tracking any problems. We’re still on--we’re still on, If you're referring to----

AR: Just like at least a year delivery delay of the launcher?

DRB: Well, launchers were never supposed to be delivered in FY ‘23. That was not part of the ‘23. But the program is back on track for it's a rapid prototyping delivery. So really those two I mentioned, though, are probably the two that you could point out and say didn't make the end of fiscal year, but the other ones all did. So not bad.

AR: And when do you expect fielding for the Next-Gen Squad Weapon at this point?

DRB: So, we’re planning--we’re going into--we're using rapid fielding authority. Like I said, the production qualification test went well, which means the current schedule should hold absent a new challenge emerging. And if you look at the budget documents, the big money in that program is actually early on is the ammunition. It's not the weapons. So, the ammunition production, SIG is doing the initial ammunition production. We're hoping to break ground by the end of the year on the new factory that's going to do that at Lake City. So, it's a big investment on the ammunition, not just the weapon.

AR: Thank you.

EL: Tony Capaccio, Bloomberg.

Tony Capaccio: On the long-range hypersonic weapon test, was the anomaly caught in the check? Was that related to the weapon itself or non-related launch issues?

DRB: Oh, it was weapon related, you know, weapon entail related. It was the system itself. There was a flaw that triggered a ‘don't shoot’ basically. Like if you can imagine a countdown for a rocket launch, something flagged in the system and said, stop here, and that was like two seconds away. So pretty close.

TC: And your--in analysis, though was this a major glitch that you hadn't anticipated?

DRB: It was not. I wouldn't say we anticipated it or we would have fixed it. But I think it's an example though, of when you take a system, for example, take the missile and you put it into what's going to be an operational launcher. This is where you learn that integration, it might sound simple, but it's not--where the challenges are. So, this was designed to be a--not a full up operational test, not like a full DOTNE test, but close. A lot of soldiers were involved. We used the real hardware, we used the real software. So unfortunately had that glitch. But we believe we have a test campaign scheduled for the rest of the year that could still, if it goes well, enable end of the year thumbs up on fielding initial to the first battery.

TC: Okay. Thanks.

DRB: So, we'll see. Still, we'll see. Still got to have a good test.

TC: Test in October or November?

DRB: I can't say.

TC: Thanks.

EL: Thank you. Please make sure your [crosstalk]

DRB: Not today [laughter]

EL: For those of you dialing in, please make sure that you have your phones muted. Dan Schere?

Dan Schere: Sure. I just was wondering if you could maybe talk about in the event of a government shutdown, just how would that impact some of the major acquisition efforts coming down the pike for FY ‘24? The thing--the contracts that are supposed to occur, are there situations where you have furloughed personnel that can't work and just how does that impact things?

DRB: I hate to say this, but it does depend on the length of a potential, I believe the formal term is lapse of appropriations. But in terms of actual programmatics, we often don't plan for first quarter awards--major awards because of the potential of a CR or in this case, a shutdown. I think my main concern, other than just the impact on the workforce in terms of disrupting people's lives and potentially their income, would be the contracting workforce. So, I mentioned all those Ukraine things. The contracting workforce isn't that big, and it's kind of like a factory. And a lot of those people, if we didn't have them able to come into work as much as they can now, that could just kind of affect overall throughput on contracting, which would affect everything in some way.

DS: Would that impact our ability to get to the 100,000 155 per month?

DRB: Not in the short term but getting to that goal requires numerous additional contracts for additional facilities and machine tools and component parts. So, over an extended period of time, yes, it would affect that.

EL: Thank you.

DRB: But hopefully it doesn't happen. We'll see.

EL: Jon Ismay, New York Times.

Jon Ismay: Hi there. I was wondering if you could talk more about the--you said there have been two successful launches for your mid-range capabilities. Can you give us some detail about when those happened, which missile was used, where the test happened, or what the scenario range was?

DRB: So, I'll have to check what we can say and can't after this, if you don't mind. But of course, the two missiles the system uses are Tomahawk and SM6. So, existing Navy missiles, but out of a ground launcher we developed based on early work done by the Strategic Capabilities Office, SCO, that we adopted. Yeah, this is actually a successful SCO handover for, again, reusing a lot of Navy technology rather than us creating something completely new. But having a ground launch version of these missiles just adds to the enemy's--potential enemy's problem, because tracking them is harder than perhaps tracking a ship at sea.

JI: If we can't talk about some of those details, could you just a very short bit about how large you expect that field and capability to be in the future?

DRB: So, I'll check myself, but I believe it's four batteries. Where's Jamal? Let's confirm those numbers for you, Jon. So, it's not an enormous number, but it's always been intended to be kind of an interim step until we get to our PrSM Increment Four missile, which is much longer range and fires out of a HIMARS, but still meaningful with missile reloads and especially in a Pacific context.

EL: John Harper?

John Harper: Thanks. You mentioned that the early returns on IVAS 1.2 have been positive so far and you're gonna be moving into the next stage of rapid prototyping. Can you provide more details what that next stage or next step will entail?

DRB: It’s more--it’s building more systems and then doing more testing it with more Soldiers. Yeah. So, I think the challenges we had the first time around were the software in terms of stability, you know, it just has to work better. The low light sensors. So IVAS is attempting to be both kind of a night division device and an augmented reality device in one. The low light sensors compared to the--they're different technologies. What we would call a NOD or a night vision device uses a tube to amplify the light. IVAS is doing that with, effectively, a night camera. So, we think this new version of that camera, apparently an early test performed very well, but we have to see. So, a camera can work really well when there's a little moonlight, but then you go under a dense canopy of trees and it's pitch dark, how well does it work? I mean, this is the level of testing we'll have to get to. And then the third thing was the fit, right? So, I think you may have seen the pictures or we certainly can provide pictures or even the opportunity to check it out. I don't know if you remember before, it had the giant cable coming out of the side that went down here. That's gone. Giant cable is gone. So, it's now really all in the head with a control device here that's connected with a very small wire. And we aspire to a wireless control so soldiers could put the controller anywhere. So, it's not perfect, but we think this form factor, to use that term, is just way closer to what is something really usable for an infantry soldier.

JH: And can you say what quantities you'll be buying for this next stage of prototyping?

DRB: I could get back to you with what’s currently--what we're planning to buy with the funding we already have. A lot of this depends, though, on congressional action in ‘24 in terms of how much R and D and procurement they provide, that'll pace the rate of buys. But we can, Jamal, provide--based on funding we have now how many systems is that? We can give you that number.

JH: Thank you.

DRB: Sure.

EL: Going to the phone lines. Matt Beinart, Defense Daily.

Matt Beinart: Thank you. Last week Undersecretary LaPlante was talking about the new joint production accelerator cell. He mentioned the 155-millimeter ammo as kind of one thing they've looked at. Does that cell--does it include people from your office? How have you maybe kind of contributed to that from an Army perspective? And how have they looked at something like 155-millimeter ammo to solve accelerating production?

DRB: Yeah. So, the cell Dr. LaPlante created, the JPAC, to use our internal term, has been extremely helpful. And yes, the Army does have members on that team, and we talk every day. The work they're doing is very important because they're not just looking at the Army, they're looking across the services and they're looking across the industrial base to try to help us work through how to do this. They're also doing a bunch of other things related to Ukraine. I can't specify, but them, as part of the OSD team, has been enormously supportive of the Army, and particularly on 155, they have helped us validate our numbers, review them, make sure they're doing OSD’s job, which is oversight of us. And that's okay. And in this case, it's not just oversight, but they've also come up with ideas of their own that have been very helpful. So, Dr. Erin Simpson runs that activity for Dr. LaPlante, and she's been a great partner.

MB: Quick follow-up. Are there any Army modernization programs that the JPAC would look at in terms of something like, say, PrSM, you know, coming online now, but looking at maybe wanting to accelerate what you had anticipated the production rate to be? Are they looking at things like that as well?

DRB: Not that I'm aware of. I think as far as I know, JPAC's focus is on Ukraine-related support. But I don't want to speak for them. So, I think if you ask them, they could tell you what other things they might be working on.

EL: Thank you. Meredith Roaten?

Meredith Roaten: Thank you. I just wanted to follow up on--I know the M1 tanks are being delivered in the next couple of days, and I know that the Ukrainian forces have done training on maintenance and sustainment and that kind of thing. But I was wondering if now that we're approaching these final days, there's anything that you all are putting in place beyond tele-maintenance practices for sustainment and being ready for repairing if something goes wrong, things like that, finding additional sources of production?

DRB: Sure. So, the first thing we've done, I believe, is as part of the package they're getting is include a lot more spare parts with the package rather than just having to rely on everything having to come back to Poland or somewhere else. So, I think since we had a little more time for this one, we've built a much more fulsome sustainment structure to hand over to the Ukrainians and been able to do more training on sustaining the vehicle with the Ukrainians. It's a lot of stuff. You take an entire armored battalion and you lay out all its things and you pack them in shipping containers. It's a lot of shipping containers, and that's before you get to the ammunition. So, I think we are setting them up initially in a little bit better place than we did on some other things, you know, we'll see long term. Ukrainians have been remarkably adept at maintaining Strykers, and Bradleys, for example, forward via tele-maintenance and indirect support from us. M1 is a whole ‘nother level of difficulty. So, they're going to have to learn. I think we've done all we can, though, to set conditions for the support structure in Europe to where we will be able to flow them repair parts, and then help them with battle damage repair and things like that. So, remains to be seen. But it's not a small thing to maintain a system as complex as an M1. But Ukraine has been very good on other things. I mean, Patriot working very well in their hands. That's also a very complicated system. So, we're hopeful.

MR: Is M1 capable of being maintained by tele-maintenance?

DRB: Yes, with enough support, with enough training. So, you still have to have trained personnel to do it. Army units do it with very well trained 18-year-olds and then on occasion at higher levels of maintenance with contractor support. But even the Army for day-to-day use, we do it our term “green suit.” It's just all US Army soldiers doing it. The system was designed for that. Higher level maintenance like what we do at our depots for higher level repair, that's where we may have to do what we're doing with some other systems and cycle systems in and out of country if they can't do it all themselves,

MR: So, that would be just like parts of the M1?

DRB: Well, day to day, the parts flow would be just part of our sustainment plan and that’s already--we have the resources lined up to do that. But the Ukrainians will have to do the hard part of all the work. But they've been very good at it. We'll see.

EL: Looks like we only have enough time for one more question. And behind you is Gordon Lubold from Wall Street Journal.

DRB: We can go a little longer, it’s okay.

Gordon Lubold: I just wonder if you could help us understand for all the times--I know you're not making a decision, obviously not making a decision on ATACMS, but ostensibly the reason part was a lack of inventory in the US. And now it seems like that's not potentially an issue. I take the point that it's not that you found ATACMS or anything, but can you help us understand kind of how we should be thinking about what that change was and how it happened?

DRB: Well, yeah, a lot of things go into those decisions. I mean, there's the inventory versus potential military plans that has to be considered. Also, lateral issues like in this case, for example, the fact that our PrSM Increment One is actually getting into--we're getting to actual deliveries of early missiles. That production line proving out, of course, helps balance that risk, I think. Meaning that as PrSM Increment One comes on, it might make it less risky from a readiness standpoint to provide some number. But these are the kind of things that come into that and then beyond that, out of my lane is, how we work with Ukrainians on operational use of a system to ensure certain lines aren't crossed that the United States decides shouldn't be. That’s out of my lane, but that's part of the conversation too. So, I assume all that's happening and we’ll inform the final decision.

GL: And then just quick on the ten versus the 17. Is there any guesstimate for the $10 billion that's on contract? Like when that number will grow within the next four to five months, six months, a year?

DRB: Well, it's growing by the day right now because we're at the end of the fiscal year. So that number was from September 13th. I think it's probably out of date. I think by the end of the fiscal year, we're hoping to get another close to 2 billion of that on contract so the funds don't expire. And there's also several requests. There's one request for replenishment that Congress is still in their window to consider. And then the supplemental request has one item in it for Patriot missile production acceleration--is in the supplemental request that Congress is considering. And we'll see if we get that.

EL: And Sam Skove?

Sam Skove: Yeah. Thanks. So, on the topic of 155 production, going from what we were producing to the prospective 100,000 is a huge jump. That said, you see in Ukraine--monthly, Ukrainians are saying they're using like 200,000, Russians using more. Shouldn't we be looking to produce more 155? And if not, what's the thinking that goes into that?

DRB: It's not just us. So, the way we're supporting Ukraine right now is not just with our ammunition. We are leveraging production worldwide through different allies. And so, them doing more also matters. So, you've heard about the recent European announcements about wanting to ramp up, which is very encouraging. So, if they do the same thing we're doing, maybe not to quite our scale, but even of any amount that's part of the picture. And then potentially other--working with other allies over time to potentially tap stocks they have. And it's not all 155. That's not the only artillery ammunition in question. They have 105s. They still have Soviet caliber systems, you know, 152, 122. So, it's a bigger picture. I think, thinking of it just in terms of their overall fires capability, you have to look at a lot of different ammunition types. 155, though, is still, of course, their preferred, most important one. And like I said, we could, if asked, look at going higher. But doing the math, I mean, 100,000, 105,000 a month, you're like 1.3 million a year plus our allies, we think, right now would meet the demand signal, but we'll see.

SS: And just to follow up on that real quick, Europeans have talked a lot about the rising cost of 155s as being a major limiting factor. Is that an issue for us? And how do you sort of see the cost issue?

DRB: Cost, I don't see. I mean, this is a--the shells are, I think, between $800 to $1200 each.

SS: That’s radically less than the Europeans say that they pay for it sometimes.

DRB: So, it depends, again, at production at scale, you can get down to those kind of costs. But compared to--even and it's very effective, the Excalibur, that's closer to $100,000 each. Cost, no. Assuming we continue to get funding support, I don't see cost being the question. It's just doing the work of building the factories, putting the machine tools in place, hiring the workforce, and doing the job. But there's a ton of really good people across a bunch of companies helping us with that.

EL: Okay. Mike Stone, Reuters.

Mike Stone: The 155 ammo with the DPICMS the Ukraine has, they've got 864. Is that the variant that you're gonna replace with, or are you gonna replace with a different variant?

DRB: Well, you mean for our stocks?

MS: Yes, sir.

DRB: Well, we're not producing those cluster munitions anymore.

MS: So, what’s the—we’re gonna go unitary?

DRB: So, first of all, that is one option, yes. We could just decide to replenish with what we can currently produce. We have a development program to produce a round that provides cluster munition-like effects.

MS: Alternative warning?

DRB: But it's not ready for production yet. I'm talking about 155. It's got submunitions but not cluster munitions in it. But that's not ready for production yet. So, in the near term, I think we would just replenish with current ammunition. But 864s and all that haven't been in production since the ‘90s and we're not gonna produce those again as far as I know.

EL: Thank you. And Jeff Schogol?

Jeff Schogol: Many of my questions have already been asked, but getting back to whether the US could produce more shells, would nationalizing the defense industry allow the United States to provide more munitions?

DRB: I don't think--no, I don't think we're in that circumstance. I think industry’s, you know, once we show up with the money, industry is responding very well. So, I don’t think--and the government already retains a great deal of control here because a lot of this is happening at our ammunition plants that we run with industry partnership. But even the places we're working with that are building new facilities, all the equipment in those places we own, we're paying for it. So, we already have a lot of leverage to make sure that this is done the way we need to. I don't see any advantage in going that route even if it were legal. Not sure it is.

EL: Okay. Is there anybody on the line that still has a question?

Brian Everstine: This is Brian at Aviation Week. I'd like to ask a question if I can.

EL: Thank you, Brian. Brian Everstine, Aviation Week.

BE: Hi. I was hoping to ask about Replicator and the Army’s share of it, if at all. Some of those goals that Secretary Hicks has laid out kind of seem similar to some Army efforts in thinking of the short-range reconnaissance Tranche two and three award is coming up, which is a very large amount of UAVs. Is there overlap there, and if not, does this kind of create a strain on industrial base to produce these sorts of systems?

DRB: Well, I would say the Army has, I think, some good candidate systems depending on what Secretary of Defense, DepSecDev decide to focus on for Replicator. But I think that's all being worked through still. But I think the Army's got some systems that could be very good potential things. So, in the unmanned aircraft space, especially, where I think we could go faster. We're kind of limited by funding at this point, but I think we've got some good systems that with more funding and some help on accelerating the process, the Army absolutely could contribute to the overall Replicator effort. But I think it's early days. We're still working with OSD on what they want to focus on.

BE: Thanks. If I could follow up on another aviation question. Can you talk about where things stand with the FVL mission systems competition? I think there's industry day coming up. What is the schedule you're looking like there? And how will this connect to EMD on FLRAA? Thank you.

DRB: Okay. You stumped me. I have no idea what you're talking about. [laughter]

EL: Can you repeat that, Brian?

BE: I was just wondering if you could talk about the competition for future vertical mission systems.

DRB: You mean within the FLRAA program?

BE: [inaudible] FLRAA and FARA will be combined missions.

DRB: I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Sorry.

EL: Brian, you can shoot me an email and we'll circle back to you.

DRB: Yeah. We’ll get to you. Yes, we can of course. Someone in this building knows. We'll get the answer.

BE: Thanks.

EL: Do we have any more questions on the line?

Howard Altman: Howard Altman, War Zone.

EL: Howard, go ahead.

HA: Yes, thanks. Forgive me if I missed this at the top, but do you have updated figures of how many ATACMS exist in the inventories, both unitary and cluster? And also, as Ukraine uses its long-range drones and develops its own long range strike weapons, are you learning anything? Changing any of your thoughts? And have you worked with Ukraine at all on its modified Neptune?

DRB: So, the first one's easy. The answer is I don't have an unclassified number I can give you on ATACMS inventory. Sorry. On the second one, I would just say I would echo what Secretary Wormuth, I think she was asked this today at CSIS. She and the Acting Chief. We are keenly closely watching what Ukraine is doing with UAS, both from a tactical level all the way up to the way they're using them, almost like strategic bombers and trying to learn how they're doing it, working with them, and understanding what that should mean for us in the future. Not every exact lesson is gonna be a one for one lesson. We, for example, for some of those missions might use aircraft with precision munitions. They don't have them, so they're using drones and that's okay. But I think the Army is very much watching the kind of the drone counter drone war in Ukraine and doing the best we can to incorporate those lessons into our future plans. Regarding Neptune, if someone from the US government helped them with that, it wasn't the Army. But I can't answer definitively. That was, of course, an anti-ship system.

HA: Since the depot level stuff has been done in Poland and other places, is there any talk about helping the Ukrainians to build their own depot level maintenance in Ukraine?

DRB: Over time, potentially, yes. So, Assistant Secretary of Defense Lohman, he works for Dr. LaPlante, has been doing great work as part of a team up there on longer term sustainment plans. So, if Ukraine's going to have Western systems over time, whatever happens with the conflict, how would we do that? It's something that's a little more sustainable and affordable, which would be them doing it more themselves with the right expertise in country. But we haven't been able to create that yet at scale, but definitely thinking that direction once we can do it.

HA: Would defense industry do it, or?

DRB: Yes. Normally, defense industry would be--for their system to be very involved in that. But just right now, with where the conflict is, we can’t--the US Government can't put forward a bunch of contractors. So, if you think post conflict or wherever that is over time, then absolutely, I'm sure Ukraine would want to be able to do that, and we would work with them on that.

HA: Are there rules about US contractors working in Ukraine right now? It's not forbidden?

DRB: Mm-hmm.

HA: Really? Okay.

DRB: So, like, there's no Army contractors going with this equipment. That's why we're using tele-maintenance and other things to do it a different way. Yep.

EL: Do you have any closing comments?

DRB: No. Just thanks everybody.