U.S. Army vows to change way it buys weapons.

"We have to look at the entire system and how…

“We have to look at the entire system and how we do things, and take into account the rapid technological change that we’re seeing today,” Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli said at the annual Association of the U.S. Army conference.

“I don’t understand how we can take 8 to 10 years or even longer and put something on the street and have it be relevant,” he told reporters after delivering an even more blunt assessment to a panel discussion: “I’m a firm believer that it’s going to take the big bang theory.”

Chiarelli and other top Army acquisition officials said they are already changing the system to “buy fewer things more often” and leverage rapid technology changes, especially given mounting pressures on the U.S. defense budget.

Across the industry, companies like Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Raytheon Co and BAE Systems are responding to the coming budget crunch by pitching upgrades to current weapons and scaling back new development projects to focus on affordability.

Army acquisition has been in the limelight after Defense Secretary Robert Gates last year canceled the Army’s biggest modernization effort, the $180 billion Future Combat Systems program, followed by the Army’s decision in August to abruptly halt a competition for a successor ground combat vehicle.

“We didn’t understand the full impact of the dismantling of FCS,” Chiarelli told the conference.

But he said the Army was now clearly focused on acquisition programs through a service-wide review, and portfolio reviews of a wide range of military capabilities across the service.

Source: Andrea Shalal-Esa for Reuters.

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