A continuous one-year resolution will hinder the integration of unmanned systems

With fiscal year 2022 well underway and the current continuing resolution set to expire without congressional consensus on the appropriations path forward, the U.S. Department of Defense is preparing for the possibility of operations under an interim CR measure for a full year. Let’s be clear: this will hamper the continued integration of unmanned systems into the US military and, ultimately, hurt our readiness for strategic competition.

At a House Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee hearing this week, appropriation officials rightly acknowledged that a full-year CR would make our military less nimble and reduce our ability to prepare for current security challenges. Members of Congress must also realize that failure to pass the funding bills will create a domino effect that will harm the national security of the United States for years to come by damaging the growing wireless systems industry. pilot.

As the Pentagon shifts resources and dollars to address this new era of strategic competition, unmanned systems – in the air, in space, at sea and on land – will be the tip of the sword for our sailors, Marines, soldiers and airmen against growing geopolitical threats.

Launched last year, the Navy’s Unmanned Campaign Plan and related task force are two examples that demonstrate how DoD leaders understand the unparalleled value that unmanned systems will bring to achieving the vision presented. in the national defense strategy.

However, the new normal of VC cycles is driving real-dollar budget cuts and program delays that threaten the advancement of this vision — and these losses harm both U.S. strategic competitiveness and the U.S. industrial base. defense. As Admiral Mike Gilday said during the House Appropriations Committee hearing, “Every day matters in this critical decade.”

Buyers should understand that the importance of fully funding research, development, test and evaluation as well as purchasing stand-alone systems at this time cannot be overstated.

A full year of RC will prevent the launch of new critical unmanned systems programs. This includes authorizing $57 million for the Marine Corps Group 5 UAS Development Project; projects totaling $52.5 million for the development of counter-small UAS capabilities; and $57.6 million dedicated to maturing technologies under the main AFWERX project. Operating at FY21 funding levels, the program for small unmanned underwater vehicles will only see one-third of its authorized FY22 budget.

These reductions represent significant wastes of time and capital that the unmanned systems industry has spent preparing systems for action in the field. The Defense Industrial Base made investments in technology, supply base, workforce, supply chain, and infrastructure based on the DoD’s vision for the future.

Companies striving to advance the front lines of innovation are already facing a “supply dip” caused by delays and gaps in new programs. A full-year CR would trigger an irreversible ripple effect that would deepen this low for years to come.

Simply put, burdening companies across the country with longstanding Capital Beltway issues is preventing the development and adoption of critical tools. Small and medium-sized businesses are feeling the impacts of these delays the most, and continued delays will force them to shift their investments from unmanned systems to other, more predictable markets.

Until Congress puts American warfighters ahead of political concerns, the United States will fall behind in developing, fielding, and adopting modern tools that support a full range of missions.

Now is the time to realize the DoD’s strategic visions by accelerating investments in aerial, surface and underground platforms. Congressional leaders must immediately work to build consensus for stable funding that enables the development and integration of unmanned systems. The country is looking for strong leadership in Congress – now is the time to step up.

Brian Wynne is President and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which is dedicated to advancing unmanned systems and robotics in defense, civilian and commercial markets. Wynne also sits on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Drone Advisory Board and Management Advisory Board. He was previously president and CEO of the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

About Michael G. Walter

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