The U.S. Army is seeking a modest increase in intelligence and unmanned aircraft acquisitions in its $120.5 billion budget request for fiscal 2015, service officials said March 4.

The Army is seeking $1.10 billion for intelligence acquisitions and research and development, down slightly from the $1.17 billion approved by Congress in December for the current fiscal year.

The acquisitions include $237 million for full operational testing and procurement of 19 MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft and their ground support equipment, said Maj. Gen. Karen Dyson, the Army’s budget director. In fiscal 2014, the Army sought $550 million to acquire 15 new Gray Eagles, plus four replacements for aircraft lost in war zones.

“FY 2015 is the final fielding of Gray Eagle,” said Davis Welch, the deputy director of Army Budget. As other Pentagon officials noted in briefings throughout the day, there is a level of risk with the choices made under the $496 billion budget cap imposed by the December budget deal. The reduced intel budget request “reflects risk through reduced fielding of unmanned sensors to the Gray Eagle, but it does provide for tactical sigint [signals intelligence] payloads and common sensor payloads for special operations forces and aerial exploitation battalions.”

The $121 billion Army base budget, down from $125 billion enacted by Congress for fiscal 2014, also seeks $203 million for the Aerial Common Sensor, including $18 million for research and development, and $185 million for Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (Emarss) aircraft supporting the development of sensor enhancements and modifications of 16 systems.

Another $148 million is being sought for the Distributed Common Ground System and $142 million to procure seven retrofit kits and launchers for the RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aircraft system.

Army officials were also seeking $9 million for science and technology research to enable operations and intelligence convergence, automated support team tools and sensor exploitation at lower echelons.

Subscribers to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network should keep visiting AWIN’s 2015 budget page for news, data and analysis of programs and priorities throughout the business day and as the proposal makes its way through Congress. The page can be found at http://www.aviationweek.com/awin/USBudget2015.aspx.