BAE LAND SYSTEMS U.S. – HEDGING ITS BETS?
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE
09 Oct 07. BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold was shown a very impressive line up of new developments on the Bradley and Paladin vehicles in particular at AUSA. A BAE spokesman told the Editor that as the systems had to be in service until 2052 whilst FCS was fielded, they had to be updated to meet the future threat.
FCS Supremo Major General Charles made his usual upbeat presentation about FCS with little or no sign of a new vehicle development apart from a lone NLOS C cannon which crawled through 2007 -2011! This signifies that the base spend of FCS which ahs been cut by $3.5bn will centre on Spin Outs 1 & 2 into the current force which is system and software centric, leaving any new vehicle builds to much later in the programme. The FCS team has no doubt read a number of articles centering on reset which would preclude Congress from authorizing a huge new spend on vehicle builds. As General Cartwright rightly said the Army is learning huge lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan which were not in the original thinking behind FCS such as Urban warfare and IEDs and thus MRAP, which will form part of the wheeled solution for FCS along with the logistic vehicles HEMMT and FMTV. (See: FCS – BECOMING A SYSTEMS SOLUTION)
On two occasions the Editor has been told that the FCS solution is ‘Stryker for the vehicles’, we would go further to say that it enhanced Bradley in its various Block builds and Stryker is the interim to medium solution. Bradley has proved a far superior vehicle in urban operations than Stryker and the new look upgrade presented by BAE using PV money certainly showed the way not only for Bradley but could give some hint to Warrior upgrades and FRES Recce in the UK.
Aviation Week reported that the U.S. Army could operate fine through the end of the year under the current continuing resolution for appropriations, but after that the service needs new fiscal 2008 supplemental funds, according to the service’s deputy chief of staff for programs.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes told an Association of the United States Army audience on October 8 that the Army can last 60-90 days before a “drawdown” would occur in buying long-lead parts for equipment. “At this point, we’re not at risk,” the three-star general said on a panel of numerous other generals. Speakes further reiterated that he did not envision the massive Future Combat Systems (FCS) program as a bill payer for Army growth, reset or other needs because “Americans understand persistent conflict.” He said taxpayers understand the need to make sure soldiers are the most technologically advanced force and they will ante up to pay for the massive acquisition effort while funding the Army’s recapitalization from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Speakes also said the Army will persist in pushing FCS. “We will always fight for it,” he said. Still, the challenges are mounting. The panel of generals restated warnings that the Army needs $13bn-$14bn every year for at least two to three years after major Southwest Asia combat operations end just for resetting battle-worn equipment.
There is little doubt that the enhanced Bradley Demonstrator with the AV Raven UAV system as part of the system was the star of the BAE Stand.
Garrie Dornan, Director Communications, Land Systems for BAE and Stayne Hoff of Aerovironment showed the Editor around the enhanced Block 2 Bradley, developed using BAE PV money.
“We have taken some of the FCS concepts and put them into our demonstrator, this will life the Bradley through to 2052. The AV Raven is an integral part of the capability as it gives the vehicle eyes and ears up to 10km away from the vehicle,” Dornan said.
“We have sold 6000 Ravens to international armed force, including a recent order from Denmark,” Stayne Hoff of AV told the Editor “Raven is more rugged and efficient than some of its competitors and gives a mission availability o