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Objective Force Warrior (OFW)

In an effort to develop a warrior system to meet the Army's transformation goals for the Objective Force, the US Army Soldier Systems Center (Natick) was leading a new Army-wide research effort called Objective Force Warrior. The proposed concept for OFW would upgrade Land Warrior and enhance warfighter lethality and survivability by bringing many of the ideas of the Future Warrior concept to reality in the 2010-2012 timeframe. "We're looking for a revolutionary change with the way soldiers fight at the small unit level," said John Munroe, Warrior System Integration Team leader at Natick. "What is revolutionary is still to be determined. It will be a combination of technology advances and fighting capability."

The concept system fit into the Army chief of staff's vision of a mobile, versatile and lethal Objective Force for 2010 and beyond. OFW would be one of the primary pillars in the warrior-centric Objective Force, integrating with and complementing capabilities of the Future Combat System (FCS), the Objective Force's family of combat vehicles, to change the way the US military would fight in the future.

Although planned fielding of the Land Warrior system was still 2 years away, a prototype of its successor, the OFW, was demonstrated at the Pentagon on 23 May 2002 by project managers of the Army Materiel Command's Natick Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts. The OFW program was developed at the direction of Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki. According to project engineer Dutch Degay, developers tossed out the current system of individual equipment and designed a new integrated, holistic system from the "skin out."

Project managers from AMC's Natick Soldier Center in Natick, Massachusetts, rolled out a prototype OFW for the Pentagon press corps on 23 May 2002.

The OFW S&T program was structured in two phases. In OFW Phase I, the two competing LTI teams would work closely with the Army to develop the OFW concept design and system of systems architecture. In Phase II, the Army downselected to a single LTI to completed preliminary and detailed OFW designs, and then integrate component technologies and subsystems into the OFW system of systems. This LTI approach in the S&T phase of the OFW program would seek to develop technologies faster and to a higher level of maturity in S&T to shorten the time needed in the System Development and Demonstration phase, which would reduce total time needed to develop, test and field OFW, planned for the end of the first decade of the new millennia. Each of the two OFW LTI teams received $7.5 million in government funding for the eight-month Phase I effort. Both awards are Other Transaction Agreements for Prototype Projects, authorized under Section 845 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY94, Public Law 103-160, as amended (10 United States Code, Section 2371 note).

On 29 August 2002, the Army announced selection of Eagle Enterprise, Inc., of Westminster, Maryland, and Exponent, Inc., of Menlo Park, California, as Lead Technology Integrators (LTIs) for the concept development phase of the OFW Science and Technology (S&T) program.

In June 2003, General Dynamics was awarded the lead technology integration agreement for Phase II of the U.S. Army's OFW Advanced Technology Demonstration program. The OFW program would provide the core network-centric soldier systems planned to be deployed by all soldiers by 2010. The $100 million Phase II award was for completion of detailed designs of the OFW system of systems over a 25-month period. There are two additional options: a Phase III 15-month Prototype Development and Demonstration effort estimated to be worth $41 million, and a non-competitive System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. The SDD and production phases had a potential value of $1 to 3 billion over a 10-year period.

The General Dynamics' OFW effort was headed by its Eagle Enterprise unit, a company formed to address technology and "system of systems" integration challenges. Eagle Enterprise was one of two lead technology integrators during the Phase I concept development for OFW.

For FY08 the Army scrapped plans to field the OFW with the first block of the Future Combat System, according to service sources. As a result, officials decided to trim tens of millions of dollars from the science and technology development effort, sources said. Instead of using Objective Force Warrior as a benchmark for the service's first units of action, the Army would pursue a variant of Land Warrior, an official said last week. Originally, the OFW system was going to be fielded in 2012, as was the Future Combat System. However, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki accelerated the FCS schedule by four years, setting 2008 as the year the new platform would arrive.

Objective Force Warrior "just couldn't make" the new timetable, a source said. The Objective Force Warrior program "cannot deliver in block I everything they promised," the official said. "And that's why" a version of Land Warrior will be paired with FCS Block I. The Army intended to field the first version of Land Warrior, dubbed Land Warrior Initial Capability, to the Rangers in FY04. The system was undergoing developmental testing and problems arose causing it too to be canceled in favor of combining features with the proposed follow on Land Warrior Black II/Stryker Interoperable. This second variant, was go to the Army's Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

Picatinny's new Lightweight Family of Weapons (LFW) program was also to assure battlefield superiority for the Objective Force Warrior. This effort would complement both the highly lethal Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) and Objective Crew Served Weapon (OCSW). The LFW included a carbine, automatic rifle and a medium machine gun and would offer significantly reduced weight over weapons not to be replaced by OICW/OCSW in the Objective Force. This family would lighten the soldier's load, provide improved battlefield mobility and reduced logistics burden to maximize operation utility, sustainability and survivability, while maintaining current levels of performance to assure the Objective Force Warrior's battlefield superiority.

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