A u. S. House defense committee has cut $400 million in requested funding for Boeing's top Army program, a new family of armored vehicles...

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A U.S. House defense committee has cut $400 million in requested funding for Boeing’s top Army program, a new family of armored vehicles and radios.

The Army’s budget for fiscal 2006 includes $3.8 billion for research on what’s now the second-most-expensive U.S. weapons program. The committee cut that request by 10.5 percent and sharply criticized the program.

“The committee has numerous concerns with the Future Combat Systems program,” the committee said in a news release yesterday. “Reasons include technology immaturity, lack of firm requirements, unknown program costs and duplicative programs.”

The program is the keystone of the Army’s effort to become more mobile and better connected. Boeing touts it as an example of how the company can manage complex systems integration.

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The House committee said the Army should “restructure” what’s now a $125 billion weapons program “until mature technology is demonstrated in relevant environments, requirements are determined and program costs are known.” The committee also directed the Government Accountability Office, a watchdog agency of Congress, to review the program annually.

The Senate Armed Services Committee last week fully funded the $3.8 billion request without major criticism. The project was the subject of a hearing in March convened by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who criticized the Army’s oversight of the program while signaling he didn’t want to slow its development.

The House and Senate versions will be negotiated later this year in a conference committee.