FUTURE COMBAT SYSTEMS DEVELOPMENTS
by Scott R. Gourley
As these pages go to press, U.S. industry and government representatives are scrambling to prepare what is informally described as the “Second Quarterly Program Overview” for the U.S. Future Combat Systems (FCS). 2003 program accomplishments included Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) approval of the FCS Operational Requirements Document (ORD).
Moreover, the successful CTD phase led to a positive “Milestone B” approval decision from the Department of Defense Acquisition Board (known as the DAB — the governing body that makes the decision to move the program ahead) in May 2003. The DAB go-ahead allowed FCS to enter the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. During SDD, the system of systems is/are being developed, demonstrated and tested in prototype form.
A $14.92bn SDD contract award to the LSI team covers the performance period from May 2003 through December 2010. During the later stages of the SDD phase, now projected in the 2008 time frame, FCS will undergo another DAB decision milestone (“Milestone C”). Successful completion of that milestone will allow the program to enter Initial Production (Initial Production Decision or IPD milestone), during which time a limited number of the platforms will be built.
Longer range schedules project that FCS will achieve its Initial Operational Capability (IOC) — indicating that the systems have been provided to a fighting unit, tested (in a combat-like environment), and determined to be ready for use in a conflict / war – in 2010.
Just a few months after the program entered its current SDD phase, Boeing and SAIC representatives presented what was described as “The first of what will be several quarterly reviews” of the FCS program. Speaking at the October 2003 Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting in Washington, D.C., the representatives presented an overview of recent / pending / and projected program activities and milestones and described how those efforts directly supported the U.S. Army “Transformation” concept.
“The Future Combat Systems program is at the center of Army transformation,” explained Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing Vice President and General Manager, Future Combat Systems.
As outlined by U.S. Army leaders, “Army Transformation combines advanced technologies, organizations, people, and processes with concepts to create new sources of military power that are more responsive, deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable and sustainable.”
Noting that the FCS program was evolving within a unique defense climate when the U.S. Army was both “at war and transforming,” Muilenburg pointed to FCS as “an enabler for making that happen.”
“And it’s not just a material solution. It’s not just a warfighter product solution. [FCS] crosses a variety of doctrine, training and leadership elements for the Army. It represents broad transformation across all aspects of the Army and it’s focused on trying to provide the Army with a more agile, versatile and deployable force,” he said.
In presenting an FCS “user requirements perspective,” Muilenburg pointed to user requirements for: increased strategic responsiveness; dominance across the full spectrum of military operations; joint, interagency and national capabilities; campaign quality force; enabled by knowledge; adaptive modular organizations, and three to seven days of self-sustainment capabilities. All requirements underlie a family of systems / system of systems in which the soldiers and leaders are enabled by technology.
“It extends from factory to foxhole and covers all aspects of the Doctrine, Training, Leader Development, People and Facilities modernization for the Army,” he said. “It also includes the Materiel solutions.”
The May 2003 FCS “Milestone B” decision recognized a number of key program tenets, including: creation of the opportunity for participation by the best of industry; leveraging th