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Future Combat Systems (FCS)

There are four major components of FCS - Manned Ground Vehicles, Unmanned Systems, FCS Network, and Soldiers. The Manned Ground Vehicles (MGVs) consists of 8 platforms. The Unmanned Systems include Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unattended Systems, and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV). The FCS Network provides the communication and automation that creates battle command environment. The Soldier is empowered with the use of robotics and technological advantages.

The Future Combat Systems (FCS) is a joint (across all the military services) networked (connected via advanced communications) systems of systems (one large system made up of [initially] 18 individual systems plus the network and Soldier - often referred to as 18 plus one plus one). A Soldier, linked to these platforms and sensors, has access to data that can provide a much more accurate picture of what's going on around him. The Warfighter Information Network-Tactical [WIN-T] will be the backbone of the Army's Future Combat Systems.

Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) General Eric Shinseki introduced the FCS program in October 1999. The program originally entailed the transformation of the Army's Legacy Forces that is comprised of divisions into a lighter, modular organization called the Objective Force. Initial plans were to field the first of such modular-equipped forces in 2011 and complete the entire Objective Force by 2032. In order to bridge the gap between the Legacy Force and the Objective Force, and fill near-term warfighting requirements, the program called for an Interim Force consisting of active Army and Army National Guard units. These brigade-sized units are known as Interim Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) or Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs). The first of such units have seen combat in Iraq. The last IBCT is scheduled for fielding in 2010.

General Shinseki's successor, General Peter Schoomaker, changed portions of the FCS program in 2003. He started by redefining the Objective Force as the Future Force and called for spiral development, incorporating functional FCS capabilities as they became available. Additionally, General Schoomaker placed greater importance on the system of networks required to link Army forces as well as Joint forces together.

On July 21, 2004, the Army announced another round of restructuring for the FCS program. A primary objective of the restructuring included four phases of spiraling in new technologies to the existing force starting in fiscal year 2008. The remaining three spiral dates are scheduled to occur in 2010, 2012, and 2014. The second modular-equipped brigade, also known as a Unit of Action (UA), is scheduled for fielding in 2015 with two more brigades fielded each year after 2015 for a total of 15 FCS-equipped brigades. All the changes increased the total cost by $20-$25 billion, about 25% higher than the original estimate of $92 billion. A significant increase to the current System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase funding of $14.78 billion is required to accomplish the changes.

The plan expanded the scope of the program's System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase by adding four discrete "spirals" of capabilities for Current Forces. It also will fully fund the FCS network and its 18 core systems, four of which were previously deferred.

The number of brigades equipped with future combat systems technology was accelerated under the restructured plan. The first FCS unit will be fielded in fiscal 2008, with 32 brigades so equipped by fiscal 2014. Under the old plan, the first unit was set for 2012. Deployment of the first fully modernized FCS Unit of Action, with only 2,500 soldiers, slipped by two years, to 2014. The Army's experimental unit, to stand up in 2008, will test the new technology. The two extra years in the FCS schedule will give time to field all 18 planned systems by 2014, versus the 13 that would have been available by 2012.

The five technologies that will be accelerated are the non-line-of sight cannon, the non-line-of-site launch system, the unattended ground sensors, two classes of unmanned aerial vehicles and armed robotic vehicles. New systems added to the program include an armed robotic vehicle, a recovery and maintenance vehicle, two new types of UAVs and an intelligent munitions system known as a smart mine. Reflecting the experience in Iraq, all eight manned vehicles will be equipped with self-protection systems for countering missiles.

Under the restructured program, the Army will speed up deployment of some segments of the system. They will begin reaching the field in fiscal 2008, rather than in fiscal 2014. The technological improvements inherent in the future combat systems would be incorporated into the current forces as they become available. Under the restructured plan, the Army would spend about $9 billion from 2005 through 2011 on upgrades communications to existing tanks and armored vehicles made by General Dynamics and United Defense. The money and technology would come from from Boeing's Future Combat Systems program.

During the FY06-11 POM process, the Army restructured the PM UA Acquisition Program. After two months of review, in April 2005 Secretary of the Army Dr. Francis J. Harvey announced a restructuring of the business aspects of the Future Combat Systems program. The changes are comprehensive and include contractual, programmatic and managerial improvements. The Army announced this restructured plan which strengthen the FCS Program and simultaneously improve the Current Force through early delivery of selected FCS capabilities. The adjustments maintain the Army focus on FCS-equipped UA development and substantially reduce program risk. The adjustments to the FCS Program acquisition strategy fall into four primary categories:

  1. The development priority in descending order will be the 1) Network, 2) Unattended Munitions, 3) Unmanned systems, and finally 4) Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV). Consequently the MGV development duration will be extended. However, Non Line of-Sight-Cannon (NLOS-C) will lead MGV development and deliver prototype NLOS-C systems in 2008 and deliver Block 0 NLOS-C prototypes in 2010.
  2. The five previously deferred FCS core systems: 1) UAV Class II, 2) UAV III, 3) Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV) -Assault, 4) ARV-Reconnaissance and 5) FCS Maintenance and Recovery Vehicle will be funded and fielded with the first FCS-equipped UA, allowing UA fielding of the complete 18 + 1 FCS core systems to begin delivery to the Army in 2014.
  3. More robust experimentation and evaluation are included in the program to prove revolutionary concepts, mature the architecture and components, and assist in spiral development.
  4. A series of Spiral Out packages will begin in 2008 and continue every two years through 2014 to insert FCS capability into Current Force Modular Brigade Combat Teams (M-BCTs) to include Stryker, Heavy, and Infantry.

To meet upcoming challenges while addressing budget constraints, in January 2007 the Army directed adjustments to the current Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. These adjustments during the '08-13 POM to:

  • Reduce FCS family of systems from 18 to 14, deferring
    1. FCS UGV ARV
    2. UAV Class II
    3. UAV Class III
    4. Intelligent Munition Systems (Standalone IMS program remains intact to meet national land mine policy). IMS loss off set in operations by increasing number of Unattended Ground Sensors-Tactical from 162 to 202 per BCT
  • Eliminates XM307 (Advanced Crew Served Weapon)
  • Put laser designation capability on Class I UAV and increases number of Class IV UAV from 24 per BCT to 32 per BCT
  • Reduces rate of production from one-and-a-half to one FCS BCT per year
  • Reduces number of NLOS-LS from 60 Controller Launch Unit to 24 with one reload per CLU per BCT
  • Funds FCS unique munitions; MRM beginning in FY08 and Advanced Kinetic Energy (AKE) in FY12
  • Reduces WIN-T Points-of-Presence (PoP) from 136 to 101 (80 in FCS platforms)
  • Changes radio mix (fewer 8-Channel JTRS radios)
  • Provides MGV with network-able chemical/ radiological sensors and other unmanned systems for integration and testing in accordance with the FCS developmental schedule
  • Provides MGV PM with overpressure filtration system and decontamination equipment for integration to meet the MGV developmental schedule
  • Includes a network-able radiological sensor in the CBRN UGS (Spin Out One)
  • Slips Milestone C (MS C), IOC and FOC up to six months (MS C=2QFY13, IOC=3QFY15, FOC=3QFY17) for FCS BCT

As of 31 December 2006 program costs decreased $2,698.2 million (-1.6 percent) from $164,628.3 million to $161,930.1 million, due primarily to the program adjustments that deferred the Class II and Class III Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Armed Robotic Vehicles-Assault (ARV-A), Armed Robotic Vehicles-Reconnaissance (ARV-R), and Intelligent Munition Systems (IMS) (-$17,557.9 million). These decreases were partially offset by revised cost estimates based on a more detailed design (+$1,364.9 million), and a procurement stretchout from 1.5 brigade combat teams (BCTs) to 1.0 BCTs per year (+$10,573.7 million) and associated increases in support costs (+$3,260.7 million).

On 24 June 2008, the US Army issued a stop work order for MGV and Non-Line of Sight Cannon efforts, in preparation for the partial termination. On 20 July 2008, the Department of the Army announced that it would follow through with the partial termination of the Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) development effort under the Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team System Development and Demonstration contract with the Boeing Company. The US Army decided effectively to terminate the manned vehicle program at that time, while spinning out other capabilities developed under the FCS program. Development on many of the sub-programs continued after that point.




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