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BOEING FCS TEAM LOOKS FOR UAV BIDS

22 Nov 04. Boeing (NYSE: BA) and partner Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), acting as Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, are seeking bid proposals to develop Class II and Class III Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems. The bid solicitation is a result of the Army’s decision in July to expand and accelerate the FCS program.

“UAV systems play an increasingly important role in battlefield operations, performing crucial missions that dramatically enhance effectiveness while keeping soldiers out of harm’s way,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing vice president and general manager, and FCS program manager. “As part of our LSI role we are building on real-world lessons learned from Iraq and the global war on terrorism to integrate leading-edge technologies and provide best-of-industry capabilities to the Army.”

Unmanned technologies represent a crucial part of FCS, which consists of 18 systems, a network and the individual soldier. UAV systems, operating as nodes in the networked battlefield, can carry a suite of payloads ranging from reconnaissance to target acquisition, and vastly improve situational awareness across the joint battlefield.

Class II and III UAVs are two of four previously deferred systems now being funded under the FCS program. The Army/LSI team conducted procurement competitions for Class II and Class III systems in 2003; however, due to funding considerations the Army deferred the contract awards. The competitions being initiated represent new bid opportunities for the FCS program. The LSI will host an industry day, on Dec. 1 in St. Louis , Mo. Program officials will brief subcontractors on Class II and III UAV requirements and provide further guidance on bid solicitation activity.

The Class II UAV system will provide reconnaissance, security/early warning, target acquisition and designation at the company level in support of line-of-sight, beyond line-of-sight and non-line-of-sight engagements. The Class II system will also be vehicle mounted, capable of taking off and landing in unimproved areas and able to provide enhanced dedicated imagery, accomplishing its mission while being cued remotely by Army personnel.

The FCS program will conduct the Class II UAV development effort in parallel with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) current Organic Air Vehicle (OAV) II program to ensure the highest degree of flexibility in meeting the Army’s requirements. Candidate systems from both programs will be evaluated during a 24-month concept maturation for their suitability to meet FCS requirements. One system will be selected to enter System Design and Development in late 2007.

The Class III UAV system will have greater endurance and a larger payload-carrying capacity than the Class II system. It will be a multifunction aerial combat support system capable of providing reconnaissance, communications relay, security/early warning, target acquisition and designation. The Class III UAV system will also provide remote reconnaissance and terrain information, and will be capable of taking off and landing in unimproved areas.

As with Class II, FCS Class III development activity will be conducted in parallel with a DARPA program. DARPA and FCS Class III candidates will be evaluated during a 30-month concept maturation phase. One system will be selected to enter System Design and Development early in 2008.
Both FCS Class II and III UAV systems, once operational, will be deployed with the first fully FCS-equipped Unit of Action beginning in 2014, while existing UAV systems used in the current force will be used to satisfy technology spiral requirements that are part of recent FCS program expansion activities.

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