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Future Combat Systems - Background

The Future Combat Systems (FCS), formerly known as Future Ground Combat Systems (FGCS) program, an out-growth of the Mobile Tactical Operations Center, will develop network centric concepts for a multi-mission combat system (MMCS). The Future Combat Systems will develop the capability to rapidly project a dominant ground force anywhere in the world within days. This strategically deployable, tactically superior and sustainable force will provide a quick reaction capability to conflicts arising in the 21st century. This requisite capability may require advanced technologies, a revolution in both strategy and tactics, and innovative industrial teaming. This is a unique opportunity to develop a system of systems design starting with a "clean sheet of paper" that will separate the manned C2 Vehicle from the sensors and separate robotic firing platforms to develop a strategically deployable, affordable force for the 2012-2025 timeframe and beyond. This program will consider and evaluate key promising combat vehicle technologies such as lethality, propulsion, mobility, survivability, robotics, ergonomic, and C4ISR technologies for inclusion into potential combat vehicle platforms. The goal of the FCS project is to strike an optimum balance between critical performance factors, including ground platform strategic, operational and tactical mobility; lethality; survivability; and sustainability. The FCS program will not exclude any promising technologies which are on a parallel development path which could later be inserted during the course of production and/or as part of Pre-Planned Product Improvements (P3I). Key to this effort will be the Systems Concept. A significant element will be the development of a technology roadmap for the Army to use in the eventual production of the FCS.

The Future Combat Systems solution will not be a single vehicle system. While it may turn out that the functional and tactical requirements for FCS can be achieved by a single vehicle system or platform, it is equally reasonable to think that the requirements may best be met by one or more vehicle system sets. The FCS could be a distributed network centric system with all of the functionality necessary to be successful on the modern battlefield distributed among multiple vehicle elements whose capabilities sum to the capabilities necessary for victory in all forms of combat. This versatility will be realized through emphasis on an open architecture system concept, with an easily upgradeable and tailorable design approach to enable the system to engage in different missions as needed.

The FCS is envisioned to be an ensemble of manned and potentially unmanned combat systems, designed to ensure that the Future Force is strategically responsive and dominant at every point on the spectrum of operations from non-lethal to full scale conflict. FCS will provide a rapidly (C-130) deployable capability for mounted tactical operations by conducting direct combat, delivering both line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) precision munitions, providing variable lethal effect (non-lethal to lethal), performing reconnaissance, and transporting troops. Significant capability enhancements will be achieved by developing multi-functional, multi-mission and modular features for system and component commonality that will allow for multiple state-of-the-art technology options for mission tailoring and performance enhancements. The FCS force will incorporate and exploit information dominance to develop a common, relevant operating picture and achieve battlespace situational understanding.

The FCS will be a multi-functional, multi-mission re-configurable system of systems to maximize joint inter-operability, strategic transportability and commonality of mission roles including direct and indirect fire, air defense, reconnaissance, troop transport, counter mobility, non-lethal and C2 on the move. The goal of this effort is to develop a network centric advanced force structure, quantify its benefits and identify materiel solutions and technologies within the context of that force. It will also identify Doctrine, Operational, Training, Leader and Material (DOTLM) specific changes necessary as a result of the development of this network centric advanced force structure.

The FCS is a revolutionary, "leap ahead" system to form the centerpiece of the Army's ground combat force to be fielded between FY2015 and FY2020. It will be a highly mobile, deployable, lethal and survivable platform, incorporating advanced technology components to enable a significant increase in combat effectiveness. Senior Army leaders explicitly rejected an Abrams-based evolutionary approach to a Future Main Battle Tank. Instead, the Army will invest in a leap ahead capability that will be the heart of mounted close-combat for the Army After Next. The FCS will blend the capabilities of several battlefield operating systems into a common platform that will reengineer the close fight.

The objective of the FCS effort is to develop lightweight (no individual element greater than 20 tons), overwhelmingly lethal, strategically deployable, self-sustaining and survivable combat and combat support force, systems and supporting technologies for the 2012-2025 timeframe and beyond. Additionally, it is anticipated that the aggregate force will be significantly (at least 50%) lighter than the existing force structure at equivalent force level. The FCS will be a single multi-functional system (or system of systems) which optimizes performance of the force leveraging on the advanced technologies (with the capability to incorporate future advances).

The FCS will be light enough to permit two systems for transport on a C17. Full second generation digital systems will provide the nexus for combined arms operations, fully embedded training, and ease of system operation. The FCS will have the sensors and lethality to detect and destroy any target with a near perfect probability of hit/kill at ranges beyond an enemy's capability. It will have a non-line-of-sight capability that will dramatically increase the task force commander's battlespace and combat power. An embedded second generation integrated defensive system will make the FCS nearly immune to enemy weapons. The FCS propulsion system will provide speeds in excess of 100 kph and require significantly less fuel than the Abrams. The FCS-equipped force will require at least 50% less logistical support than the Abrams fleet.

The Army Science and Technology Program underwent a major realignment and acceleration to address the Army Vision. In particular, the FY01 budget funds the Future Combat System (FCS) to focus science and technology on the development of Future Force capabilities. The Army investigated possibilities for a FCS that is an innovative, multi-mission system, optimizing commonality of component and subsystems, affordability, deployability, survivability, and lethality to meet ground force requirement for the Future Force. The FCS will feature affordable sustainment costs, reduced logistics requirements, and a decrease in crew size as compared to the current systems. The Army is accelerating the research and development of this system and anticipates equipping its first unit with the FCS as soon as technology is available.

The government is teaming with industry to develop a more effective ground force for the new millennium. The FCS program is envisioned as a Simulation Based Acquisition (SBA) program, which DARPA will implement as a Simulation and Modeling for Acquisition, Requirements and Training (SMART) Program. The FCS program will maximize the use of modeling and simulation throughout its life cycle. The TRADOC Analysis Center (TRAC), the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA), the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and many other government agencies will participate in the Design Concepts Phase by providing support to contractors. ARL leads the engineering level (technical) analytic effort, while TRAC leads the operational analysis. AMSAA leads the integration efforts across the breadth of analyses in support of the FCS program. TRAC, ARL, and AMSAA will also assist the government in selecting the concepts that will continue into the next phase of the FCS program.

As combat systems become smaller and lighter to provide the necessary strategic and tactical mobility, providing adequate protection without reliance on heavy armor is one of the greatest technological and operational challenges. The solution involves developing and integrating an optimal suite of protection approaches such as armor, active protection systems (APS), signature reduction, jammers, and decoys. Advanced component technologies for APS that provide protection against threat munitions (e. g., guided and unguided anti- armor munitions) will be integrated, demonstrated and provided to Future Combat Systems (FCS) contractors for incorporation into their designs. Initial APS efforts have been focused on demonstrating the technologies needed for a system that is effective against Chemical Energy (CE) munitions (e. g., anti- tank guided missiles with shaped charge warheads). The ultimate goal is a Full Spectrum Active Protection (FSAP) system which will provide hemispherical survivability against CE threats, plus large caliber tube launched Kinetic Energy and top attack threats. Survivability technologies that are integrated and demonstrated in the laboratory and the field. Major contractors include: United Defense Limited Partnership, San Jose, CA; Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company, Nashua, NH; TRW, Redondo Beach, CA; Hughes Danbury, Danbury, CN; General Dynamics Land Systems, Warren, MI; Chang Industries, Salt Lake City, UT & Laverne, CA; New Mexico Tech, Socorro , NM; IST, Goleta, CA, Aerojet, Azusa, CA.

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