U.S. Special Operations Command
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2023 Defense Budget Extends SOCOM’s Reach

April 7, 2022
The U.S. SOCOM is seeking smaller aircraft as well as manned and unmanned undersea vehicles as part of the DoD’s 2023 fiscal year budget request.

A healthy defense budget for fiscal year 2023 includes $246 million in support of the “Armed Overwatch” program managed by the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The funding is meant to acquire smaller, specialized aircraft serving the surveillance needs of special operations forces (SOF) in difficult environments.

Missions that require clandestine actions may be more effectively executed by smaller aircraft uniquely suited to SOCOM’s forces, rather than using high-visibility aircraft such as U.S. Air Force fighter jets (see figure).

Christopher P. Maier, the assistant Secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, recently speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee, explained, “The budget ... supports the ‘Armed Overwatch’ program to ensure our SOF have the required support in remote and austere environments where they operate.”

The funding was requested for nine aircraft for the Armed Overwatch program, to be deployed in remote locations for close air support, precision strike capability, airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance as needed. Maier added, “The investment into the Armed Overwatch program will ensure that this dedicated capability exists, allowing high-end fighter aircraft to orient towards other critical needs.”

SOCOM also is working with the U.S. Navy on acquisition of manned and unmanned undersea vehicles. The budget request includes those additions to facilitate access to, and intelligence gathering in, difficult locations.

About the Author

Jack Browne | Technical Contributor

Jack Browne, Technical Contributor, has worked in technical publishing for over 30 years. He managed the content and production of three technical journals while at the American Institute of Physics, including Medical Physics and the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology. He has been a Publisher and Editor for Penton Media, started the firm’s Wireless Symposium & Exhibition trade show in 1993, and currently serves as Technical Contributor for that company's Microwaves & RF magazine. Browne, who holds a BS in Mathematics from City College of New York and BA degrees in English and Philosophy from Fordham University, is a member of the IEEE.

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