FCS PROGRESSING SMOOTHLY
By Otto Kreisher
08 Oct 08. The Future Combat Systems program is progressing smoothly, Army officials told attendees at an Institute of Land Warfare Contemporary Military Forum. The program was once a target for critics and skeptics in Congress, but in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2009 budget, Congress added money to the administration’s request for FCS – the first time in the program’s history that has happened.
Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright, the Army’s FCS program manager, showed a series of videos of various parts of the program – including the active protection system, unmanned ground and aerial vehicles and the mounted combat system firing platform – that are undergoing testing.
“We’ve come a long way from PowerPoint,” said Gregg Martin, vice president of Boeing for Future Combat Systems. “Every one of our systems is in some test or evaluation phase.”
Speaking Oct. 8 at the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting, Martin also sketched out the broad outline of the next three years of FCS development. “2009 is all about detailed design for our final prototype builds that we’ll take into qualification. 2010 is all about initial integration in so many of those vehicles and 2011 is all about formal qualification testing,” he said.
FCS is being developed with a new understanding of that the fight the Army is engaged in and is likely to continue to be engaged in, said Brig. Gen. Robert Abrams, deputy commander of the Combined Arms Center for Training at the army’s Training and Doctrine Command.
The new framework includes understanding that full-spectrum operations are now conducted at the platoon and squad level and that they need to be equipped as such. And video from unmanned aerial and ground vehicles is “essential” and so needs to be available to commanders of lower echelon units, not just brigades, BG Abrams said.
The Army now understands, as well, the need for operating among populations, not on depopulated battlefields. “That’s a major cultural shift for the U.S. Army and land power. Heretofore we’d always avoided populated areas, now we embrace them. And we continue to evolve and develop that capability to be able to operate amongst that dense terrain,” he said.