Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:
We respectfully request that you consider the need expressed by the Army in its Unfinanced Requirements List for additional UH-60M Black Hawks in Fiscal Year 2017, as well as the National Guard Association of the United States request for additional UH-60M Black Hawks for the Army National Guard fleet. Additional UH-60Ms will address urgent Army readiness concerns, accelerate modernization of the National Guard fleet, and provide substantial savings by procuring at the most efficient rate.
With budget constraints creating challenges for our Armed Forces, Army Aviation programs -- including the UH-60M Black Hawk -- face declining resources in a time of growing need. The proposed FY 2017 Army Aviation budget includes a decrease of $2.3 billion from what was enacted in FY 2016, with a decrease in UH-60M production down to a total of 36 helicopters. This is a reduction of 34 helicopters from what was planned just two years ago for FY 2017, and 24 fewer than the plan contained in the FY 2016 budget. The UH-60M Black Hawk continues to be the backbone of Army Aviation, and its modernization strategy is incredibly important to all components, given the wear and tear on the fleet resulting from more than 14 years of sustained combat operations and high OPTEMPO. This is particularly true of the remaining UH-60A aircraft, the majority of which remain in the Army National Guard, all of which need to be replaced or upgraded to sustain Army capabilities. The FY 2017 request for just 36 helicopters can only be a response to budget pressure and not of need.
Should funding become available for Army aviation as you craft your FY 2017 defense legislation, we ask for your support for additional funding for UH-60M Black Hawks to meet Army unfunded requirements, continue the modernization of the National Guard Black Hawk fleet, and take advantage of unit cost savings that benefit the Army and the taxpayers. Thank you for consideration of this critical equipment need within the Total Army.