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Army Demos Future Combat Systems (FCS) in Live-Fire Soldier Exercise

Feb 02, 2007

The Army this week successfully completed the first Live-Fire Soldier exercise, Experiment 1.1, involving Future Combat Systems (FCS) technologies and equipment. The culmination of an eight-month demonstration that took place at both Fort Bliss, Texas, and Huntington Beach, Calif., the exercise is the first step in accelerating the delivery of key FCS capabilities to current-force Soldiers and part and parcel of the most comprehensive Army modernization effort in more than half a century.

"The future is now," said Army FCS Program Manager Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright. "Networked Soldiers already are using early FCS systems; and we're getting invaluable Soldier feedback about what works and what needs improving. Today's exercise is further confirmation that the FCS program is working as planned."

Early iterations of FCS technologies and equipment already are saving Soldiers' lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today's live-fire Soldier exercise reduced development risk by helping to ensure that the new technologies tested are sufficiently mature and suitable for the current operational environment; indeed, the results of the exercise will inform subsequent program development. The FCS program has delivered more than five million lines of software code and several pre-production prototype systems on cost and on schedule.

A platoon of 36 Soldiers participated in the exercise, which involved a mock urban assault recently carried out by U.S. forces in Iraq. The Soldiers attacked the target and then cleared out several buildings that were infested with insurgents. But unlike today's Soldiers, the troops using FCS equipment were empowered by the FCS network; consequently, they had a suite of new networked capabilities that reduced Soldier risk, increased Soldier awareness and battlefield understanding, and enhanced overall mission effectiveness.

For example, the Soldiers had Urban and Tactical Unattended Ground Sensors (U/T-UGS), which they used to identify and classify targets and to perform perimeter defense and surveillance. The hand-emplaced UGS provides residual protection for cleared areas and a leave-behind, network-enabled reporting system for greater force protection and situational awareness.

The UGSs are part of the first FCS spin-out or technology insertion, which begins in 2008 and involves Soldier evaluations at White Sands Missile Range. Spin-Out 1 also includes an early version of the FCS Network and the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS). The NLOS-LS gives the Army a highly deployable, long-range precision attack capability with a much-reduced logistical footprint for faster and more sustainable deployments.

The live-fire Soldier exercise involved a prototype NLOS-LS, an early iteration of the FCS Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV), and a prototype Class 1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Soldiers use the SUGV and the Class I UAV in reconnaissance and surveillance missions, while the SUGV also can defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Experiment 1.1 had three phases. Phase 1 involved hardware and software integration and networking and systems interoperability testing in a laboratory environment. Phase 2 involved interoperability testing of various FCS systems in a more realistic, joint operational environment with more than a dozen Soldiers. Phase 3 involved a platoon of 36 Soldiers using FCS equipment and technologies in an operational environment.

"The days of Power Point slides are over," Maj. Gen. Cartwright said. "We're building, and Soldiers are testing, FCS right now to expedite the delivery of modern capabilities to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan."


For more information, contact U.S. Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

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