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WILL FCS BECOME THE NEXT JSF?

During his speech following the appointment of the Boeing-led team for FCS, Claude M. Bolton, U.S. assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, stated that the U.S. would be looking for international partners for FCS

“The real winner is the soldier” and while “I represent the technology branch . . . I really work for the soldier, ” stated Claude M. Bolton, assistant secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology

The partnership will help to accelerate the pace to achieve the Army’s Transformation by 2010. FCS will give our soldier’s an overwhelming advantage, explained Bolton. The soldier will be at a higher readiness state because of enhancements the contract will create.

The Army will have a lighter, faster and more lethal Army by 2010, said Bolton. The Army will be able to put a brigade on the ground in 72 hours and a division in 96 hours, he said.

Bolton said he was open to international involvement in the programs as they progress. He doesn’t know if will be just technology or like the Joint Strike Fighter, and he said the allies he has spoken with are also in favour working together.

The JSF project has ensured that the United States will have the lion’s share of the tactical fighter market for the foreseeable future. Opening up FCS to international participation could well herald the same result for Army programs, particularly armoured vehicles.

With Europe struggling to find money for defence projects, this may well prove the way forward for such projects as FRES. The FT reported this week that the UK MoD is already taking money from next year’s budget to meet new responsibilities.

Although the demise of TRACER/FSCS has freed £1bn from the budget, sources close to BATTLESPACE estimate that £700m of this could be allocated to FRES.

But with budgets stretched and the European outlook far from rosy will this £700m go to FCS to further strengthen UK/US ties in defence already established through BOWMAN, which relies for US and Canadian technology.

UK participation in FCS would benefit BAE SYSTEMS which has derived technology from TRACER/FSCS and developed a strong working relationship with US companies such as UDLP, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, sourcing the chassis for the Sika solution direct from UDLP utilising advanced US technologies. For armoured vehicle manufactures such as Alvis this could relegate the company to a mere metal basher, building under licence with US technology.

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