The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command launch a missile target at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Feb. 8, 2023, while testing new Patriot missile software.

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command launch a missile target at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., Feb. 8, 2023, while testing new Patriot missile software. U.S. Army

Army continues focus on munitions amid Ukraine war, China tensions

The service is also seeking alternatives to its long-range cannon program amid technical problems.

The Army is asking for just slightly more money for the next year than it requested last year, and is sticking with its recent shift toward munitions that might be of use in a conflict with China or Russia.

The Army requested $185.9 billion for fiscal 2025, according to budget documents released Monday. That’s an increase of 0.2 percent over the 2024 budget request, though it works out to a cut when adjusted for inflation. The funding is meant to support an active force of 442,300 active duty soldiers, 325,000 Army National Guard members and 175,800 reservists—a decrease in force structure that reflects Army plans to cut billets amid recruiting difficulties. 

The service will continue buying large amounts of munitions that have been used heavily in Ukraine, such as missiles and multiple launch rocket systems. It is asking $5.7 billion for missiles, up from $4.4 billion last year.

Increases in the missiles category were included a $744 million request for the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon system, $517 million in lower air and missile defense, $493 million for Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM), and $326 million for Javelin anti-tank missiles. The PrSM buy will get the Army 230 missiles, according to budget documents. 

The Army also wants $1.2 billion for guided multiple launch rocket systems (GMLRS), an increase over last year’s $943 million. “I believe that’s the highest budget number for GMLRS probably ever,” said Army acquisition chief Doug Bush at a media briefing Friday. 

The service is investing in longer-range precision missions in part because of an increasing focus on the Pacific, Bush said. Compared to Europe, the Army must grapple with significantly greater distances between weapons and potential targets than in Europe. The Army’s Pacific forces could field PrSM missiles, Gen. Charles Flynn said late last year.  

The Army is also hoping a surge in foreign buys of U.S. munitions and weapons will help drive down the cost per unit. Already, Poland’s commitment to the M1 Abrams tank keeps the tank “affordable,” Bush said. 

“This increased surge [of orders] from Europe and Asia is very well timed,” he said. 

The Army also wants to fund the capabilities it needs to destroy small drones on the battlefield, said Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo. To that end, the budget request includes $82.5 million to buy the Mobile-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft Integrated Defeat System (M-LIDS) and $26.4 million for the Fixed Site-Low, Slow, Small Unmanned Aircraft System Integrated Defeat System, or FS-LIDS. 

Additionally, the Army is seeking $316 million for further research and development of its Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) vehicle, and an unspecified amount for the for the Multi-Domain Artillery Cannon System (MDACS). An Air Force-trialed version of the MDACS is designed to shoot down cruise missiles. 

A supplemental bill that supports Ukraine, Israel, and other national security priorities also includes $531 million for counter-drone missiles and systems for the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, and investments to bump up 155mm production to 100,000 rounds per month. However, that bill has stalled in Congress over Republican complaints that it does not do enough for border security. 

The U.S. already awarded two rapid acquisition contracts for drone interceptors after a ramp up in drone strikes on U.S. troops following Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, Bush said though he did not say which interceptors were chosen. 

The budget request released Monday also reflects the Army cancellation of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft in favor of investments in commercially available drones and older platforms, such as UH60M Blackhawk and CH-47F Block II Chinook. 

The service also plans to increase spending on drones, asking for $149 million for future unmanned aerial systems and $70 million for small unmanned aircraft systems. That is roughy three times more than last year's budget request for both categories. 

Despite the Army’s renewed focus on drones, though, the service is unlikely to consider multi-year buys of them, despite using that acquisition model for munitions to drive down their cost. That’s because the drone market changes so frequently that the Army is reluctant to settle on one single platform, Bush said. 

The Army will also continue to invest in Microsoft’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), Bush added, an augmented reality headset that has struggled with fielding delays. The Army plans to invest $256 million in IVAS to field 3,162 systems, plus $98 million in further research and development.  

The Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) will not enter production under the proposed budget, because testing did show enough progress, Bush said. The Army instead hopes to evaluate existing U.S. and international artillery systems this summer to try to select a system to field, he said. 

However, the Army will continue to invest in munitions developed for the program. The Army previously tested ERCA-fired rounds that tripled the average range of 155mm shells. The same rounds can also be fired from more standard howitzers. 

And amid widespread complaints about the conditions of barracks, the Army is investing heavily in housing. 

Active-duty housing saw the greatest increase, from $1.47 billion in last year’s request to $2.3 billion in fiscal 2025. That rise includes an increase from $288 million to $854 million for barracks construction and an increase from $609 million to $916 million for replacing old facilities. 

That uptick reflects “the Army's continued commitment to address our barracks deficit” said Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo. 

The Army is also asking for money for regional initiatives in the Pacific and Europe, requesting $1.5 billion for its Pacific Pathways program and $2.1 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative. 

The request for Pacific Pathways is roughly equal to last year’s request, while the European Deterrence Initiative request is a decline from last year, when the Army asked for $2.6 billion.