System Development and Demonstration (SDD)
In May 2003, the Future Combat Systems program began its SDD phase. In July of 2004, the Army announced that early delivery of selected FCS systems would occur. In May 2005, a Milestone B update was planned, with a System Functional Review scheduled for three months later (August 2005). FCS Milestone C (initial production) was slated to commence in 2012. The completion of Milestone C would lead to an Initial Operational Capability in 2014. Finally, a Full Operational Capability FCS-equipped Brigade Combat Team was planned to be available in 2016.
In March 2007 the FCS program was one subject of a broad report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on defense systems procurement. In it was noted that the FCS program had made progress maturing critical technologies, but only 1 of the FCS' 46 critical technologies was fully mature. Technology maturation would continue throughout development, with an associated risk of cost growth and schedule delays. The Army did not expect to complete the definition of FCS' requirements until at least 2008. As FCS requirements continued to evolve, the Army anticipated making additional trade-offs. For example, a trade-off noted in the report was in increased ballistic protection levels for manned ground vehicles, but at an increased design weight. The Army anticipated that a high percentage of design drawings, a measure of design stability, would be completed by the design review scheduled to take place in 2010. FCS cost estimates had increased significantly as the Army has gained more product knowledge.
The FCS program had made progress maturing critical technologies during 2006, but it still had not demonstrated the level of knowledge expected of a program entering development according to the GAO report. Only 1 of the FCS' 46 critical technologies was fully mature. The program office provided its own updated critical technology assessment, which showed that 36 of 46 technologies were nearing full maturity. An independent assessment of FCS' critical technologies was expected before the preliminary design review in 2008.
According to the GAO, the FCS program was not following the best practice standard of having mature technologies prior to starting system development. The program employed integration phases to facilitate incremental introduction of technologies into the FCS system of systems, and to allow for capability augmentation over time. The Army's approach, however, would allow technologies to be included in the integration phases before they approach full maturity. FCS officials insisted fully matured technologies were not necessary until after the design readiness review in 2011, which was contrary to best practices and the intent of DoD acquisition policy.
The program had made progress defining FCS requirements, but the process had to the potential to not be complete until the preliminary design review in 2008. In August 2006, the program documented the desired functional characteristics of FCS systems and the criteria for achieving those characteristics. Although a notable accomplishment, this event was one that according to the GAO should have occurred before the start of development in 2003. Furthermore, if technologies did not mature as planned, Army officials told the GAO that they could trade-off FCS capabilities. As the requirements process had proceeded, the Army had made key trade-offs, including one that increased the ballistic protection levels of the manned ground vehicles (to meet expected threats) and resulted in an increased design weight. The requirements definition process would continue at least until the preliminary design review in 2008 when the Army was expected to confirm the technical feasibility and affordability of the FCS system-level requirements.
The Army expected to conduct the preliminary design review in 2008, much later than recommended by best practices according to the GAO. However, it was suggested that that date could be the point at which the FCS program finally approaches a match between requirements and resources. Beyond that, the FCS acquisition strategy included a very aggressive schedule, with a planned critical design review in 2010 and a Milestone C decision in 2012. Although it was early in the design process, the Army expected to release 95 percent of FCS's design drawings by 2010. Further, testing of the entire FCS concept would not occur until 2012, or just prior to an initial production decision, illustrating the late accumulation of key knowledge highlighted in the GAO report.
Program office estimates showed that the FCS program's costs had increased substantially since the program began. The increases were primarily attributed to increased program scope and an extension of the development and procurement phases. Also, cost estimates were built with greater program knowledge and were therefore more realistic and accurate. However, the most recent Army cost estimate noted in the March 2007 GAO report did not yet reflect some then recent requirements changes that increased the number and type of systems to be developed and procured. Further, recent independent cost estimates pointed out several major risk areas in the Army cost estimates. Although the program was working to reduce unit costs, those desired savings were reported to be in a position where they might not be realized until much later in the program, if at all, according to the GAO.
In response to the GAO report, the FCS program manager stated that the assessment does not give the Army credit for the technical progress shown during recent demonstrations and experiments. The GAO responded to that complaint by saying that while the assessment dud not specifically focus on such demonstrations, they were reflected to some extent in the Army's own technology assessments. Also, while some progress was being made on individual FCS systems, that progress was not consistent across the family of FCS systems and the information network.
Between the 2007 and 2008 GAO assessments, the Army made progress maturing six technologies, but three other critical technologies were now assessed as less mature. The Army continued to define the requirements for core FCS systems, and contractors continued to refine their initial designs. Testing of the initial FCS items to be delivered to Army forces was expected to begin in FY08. The Army also planned to begin initial production of both the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) and a few other related systems in FY09. The Army eliminated four of the core FCS systems due to budget considerations. The Army's development cost estimate for FCS was much lower than two independent estimates and was based on less demonstrated knowledge than would normally be expected near the midpoint of development.
As of March 2008, only 2 of the program's 44 technologies were fully mature and 30 were nearing full maturity. Based on the Army's assessment, 6 technologies had demonstrated higher maturity since last year, but 3 were now assessed as less mature. All critical technologies might not be fully mature until the Army's production decision in February 2013 according to the GAO. The next independent verification of FCS critical technologies was expected to be available in early 2009 for the preliminary design review.
The Army was using a phased approach to "spin out" mature FCS equipment to existing forces, provided the equipment demonstrated military utility during testing. Testing of the initial spinout items was expected to begin in FY08. The Army would be testing spinout hardware using surrogate radios, because technical issues had delayed development of new radios. As of the existing schedule, production-representative radios would not be available for testing until at least 2009, which would be after the production decision for spinout items.
The Army planned to conduct a preliminary design review in February 2009 and a critical design review in February 2011. At the critical design review, the Army expected to have completed 90 percent of FCS design drawings, a measure of design stability. FCS contractors had released some design drawings for a small number of systems that were candidates for near-term spinout fielding including unattended sensors, the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, and various communications equipment. Contractors had also released some design drawings for an early production version of the NLOS-C. The vehicles were being built to satisfy a congressional mandate for the early fielding of cannon vehicles.
Since the low-rate production decision for the core FCS systems was not scheduled until February 2013, the GAO did not assess production maturity. However, the Army planned to spend more than $5 billion to begin initial production of both the NLOS-C and a few spinout systems in 2009, 4 years before the program's system-of-systems production decision and before any of the other manned ground vehicles were subject to any developmental, live fire, or operational testing. The Army intended to use a sole source contract with the current lead system integrator for all FCS low-rate production.
Between the 2007 GAO assessment and the 2008 assessment, the Army deleted four systems and made several other adjustments to the FCS development program based largely on budgetary constraints. The Army also reduced the annual FCS production rate and stretched out the production phase by about 5 years, also due to budgetary limitations. As a result, total cost estimates for the program were slightly reduced.
The Army's FCS development cost estimate depended on a number of assumptions. Historically, programs using such assumptions had tended to underestimate costs. Program officials stated they would not spend more in development than the current value of the FCS development contract. Any projected cost overruns would be eliminated by deleting requirements, forcing the user to forego certain capabilities.
As originally conceived by the Army Science Board in the mid-1990s, FCS would have entered service around 2015. Following the Kosovo War, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's drive for revolutionary weapons, Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki repeatedly advanced the projected deployment date, from 2015 to 2013 to 2010 to 2008. As of late 2001 the FY03-FY07 Five Year Defense Program's Program Objective Memorandum [POM] included an additional $3.2 billion to accelerate the Future Combat System (FCS). This increase was expected to allow the FCS to be accelerated by two years, with the system expected to enter production in FY06 and start fielding in FY08.
The Army was on schedule to meet its goal of standing up the Future Force by Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki's target timeframe of 2008 to 2012. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, Dr. Michael Andrews, predicted that "By the end of 05, early 06, we will have a future combat systems demonstration. We're not having to create new technologies out of thin air."
A major difference between the FCS developmental effort and previous Army system-development projects was that FCS involved various types of vehicles that would comprise an entire fighting organization. This led to another major difference, the use of a Lead System Integrator (LSI), a teaming arrangement between Boeing and SAIC. The program's objective involved simultaneously developing and fielding 10 FCS variants that would be parts of the operational and organizational concept for the "unit of action," the brigade-size element associated with FCS.
The initial Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) award was for 16 months (March 2002 to June 2003) through the Concept and Technology Development (CTD) Phase and Milestone B (MS B) with an Option for the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Phase. There were seven proposed demonstrations plus a capstone demonstration using modeling and simulation (M&S) to support MS B. The seven are mobility, active protection system and integrated armor, ground and air systems, mobile communications, mobile C2, distributed information, and network survivability.
Government funding for the Concept Technology Demonstration (CTD) phase of FCS was anticipated to be $114 million in FY03. The Government anticipated having on the order of $4 billion for the System Design and Development (SDD) phase of the FCS program beginning in FY03, following a Milestone B decision by the Government in 2003 to proceed to the next phase of the program.
Compliance to the Statement of Required Capabilities (SoRC) would be accomplished incrementally with full compliance at Block 3 (2018).
On 28 April 2003, the Army announced that the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) had approved the FCS Operational Requirements Document (ORD), validated the seven FCS Key Performance Parameters (KPPs), delegated non-KPP ORD approval authority to the Chief of Staff of the Army, and approved the Army's plan for iterative JROC program review and KPP updates. Additionally, the JROC had assigned the Joint Potential Designator "Joint", ensuring interoperability, to the FCS Program. The JROC decision was a reflection of the close coordination made between the Army Staff, Services, Joint Staff, and OSD. It was the culmination of more than two years work by a team comprised of the Army, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the FCS Lead Systems Integrator.
On 19 May 2003 the Department of Defense approved The Army's key transformation program, signing a memorandum that would move the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program into the $14.92 billion System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the effort. During this phase, the Army and its Lead Systems Integrator team (Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation) would begin the design and development of FCS, a joint, networked 'system of systems' that was comprised of 18 manned and unmanned ground and aerial vehicles and sensors connected via an advanced communications network. A soldier, linked to these platforms and sensors, was expected to have unprecedented situational awareness.
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