FCS – AS GOOD AS IT GETS?
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
10 Oct 06. Boeing and partner Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), functioning as the Lead Systems Integrator supported by DoD leader Major-General Charles Cartwright gave the press an update to the progress of the much-criticized FCS Program. After a shaky start when the video system broke down, FCS supremo Dennis Muilenburg, gave a bullish update to the Program, announcing the details of the first Spinout of 14 FCS technologies.
This Spinout will be funded in 07 with EBCT in 2008 and first fielding in 2010. FCS segments chosen for this Spin Out included: The Overwatch led Unattended Ground Sensors Program, which includes partners Textron and Lockheed Martin; iRobot’s products; Lockheed Martin’s MULE UGV; Northrop’s Fire Scout UAV; General Dynamics’ embedded computer; BAE’s NLOS C cannon; Raytheon’s IED active protection system and Raytheon’s NLOS-LS.
Muilenburg replied to questions about funding and said that the problems arose from the extra funds required for the technology spin outs for the legacy fleet of Bradley, Stryker and M1A2s. However a later remark by General Cartwright about funding may point to the real structure of FCS. “Real production dollars will be spent between 2008 and 2013 with a network to be developed by 2010. 5 million lines of software will be achieved by 2007. There are now 552 Operational Requirements and 11431 Specifications”
It was not what was disclosed at this latest update but what was omitted was the signal of possible savings in budgets. To explain this, the initial capability statement with regard to FCS is revisited.
‘The Future Combat Systems (FCS) program is an Army transformation initiative designed to link soldiers to a wide range of weapons, sensors, and information systems by means of a mobile ad hoc network architecture that will enable unprecedented levels of joint interoperability, shared situational awareness and the ability to execute highly synchronized mission operations. The FCS will improve the strategic deployability and operational maneuver capability of ground combat formations without sacrificing lethality or survivability. The Boeing Company is partnered with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as the Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) for the program, with support from a vast network of “One Team” subcontractors and suppliers.’
The key point is, ‘without sacrificing lethality or survivability.’ The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have in effect thrown the whole thinking process back into the melting pot. The deployment of the IED and RPG in both wars means that technology cannot defeat these weapons at long-range and that the initial weight required for FCS, 17 tonnes is far too low to allow adequate armour protection for troops operating in urban areas, a deployment not envisaged under the original FCS. Quite clearly the air deployment by C-17 and C-130 rather than pre-deployed maritime assets has to be looked at again as the weight requirements now make this strategy questionable given the limited numbers available per deployment. The same problems have arisen in Europe with the A400M development.
BATTLESPACE covered the latest developments of FCS in the article FCS UPDATE by Scott Gourley, in our October issue following the JEFX Experiment.
Muilenburg applauded the successful completion of the Initial Preliminary Design Review (IPDR)in August of this year. The IPDR is the FCS program’s most important technical milestone to date and the largest review of the year.
During the week-long event held in St. Louis, nearly 1,000 industry and government representatives engaged in a multi-disciplined review of the technical progress of the FCS program, at the system-of-systems and system levels, over the last 12 months. Participants, many of whom joined virtually from more than 30 locations across the country, included representatives from the Army’s Tra