The Army moved one step closer to transforming itself into a more relevant, capable and ready 21st-century force when, last week, it successfully completed In-Process Preliminary Design Review of its principal modernization effort, the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program. The In-Process Preliminary Design Review is the latest in a series of successful program milestones affirming that FCS modernization is meeting the Army's cost projections, time schedule and performance expectations. Requirements and functionality for all 18 FCS systems now have been clearly defined; and the program is proceeding to design, build, integrate and test actual hardware and software.

The In-Process Preliminary Design Review -- completed successfully Aug. 11 in St. Louis, Mo. -- was a one-week long event involving key government and industry officials. These individuals hailed from the Army's FCS program office, Training and Doctrine Command, Office of the Secretary of Defense and Government Accountability Office, among other key organizations.

"The days of PowerPoint slides are over," said Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright, program manager, Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team. "Within a year, FCS capabilities will be integrated into the current force through our Evaluation Brigade Combat Team (EBCT). The EBCT will deliver to our Soldiers new capabilities that are specifically designed to address 21st century threats. Our Army and our troops require these new FCS capabilities sooner rather than later."

Future Combat Systems is the cornerstone of a comprehensive Army modernization effort that facilitates development of a more modular or versatile force, with greater joint and expeditionary capabilities. This new modular force requires more robust 21st-century capabilities better empowering and protecting Soldiers.

To give Soldiers unprecedented situational awareness and new capabilities to address 21st-century threats, the Future Combat Systems program includes a suite of 18 manned and unmanned systems, air and ground vehicles, all interconnected by a modern network. These 18 systems include: eight Manned Ground Vehicles, the Non-Line of Sight Launch System, Intelligent Munitions Systems, Unattended Ground Sensors, four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and three Unmanned Ground Vehicles. Future Combat Systems also helps to modernize the current force through planned technology Spin-Outs. These spin-outs provide current force units with FCS capabilities long before full FCS Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are fielded.

In-Process Preliminary Design Review confirmed that the FCS functional baseline has been established and the program is ready to begin preliminary design. This process also included a review of all layers of the FCS Network, embedded training, modeling and simulation, logistics and supportability functions, and complementary programs.

In-Process Preliminary Design Review additionally demonstrated the maturity of the overall FCS baseline design concept. Indeed, the review found that critical FCS technologies are maturing on or ahead of schedule; program risks are well understood; and these risks are being actively -- and successfully -- managed. The next major FCS program milestone is the System of Systems Preliminary Design Review, which begins in 2008.

Army Future Combat Systems modernization now focuses on delivering Spin-Out 1 capabilities to the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss. The Evaluation Brigade Combat Team is standing up early next year; it will evaluate, and provide Soldier feedback on, emerging FCS capabilities. The Evaluation Brigade Combat Team also will serve to test and validate the doctrine and systems that are part of the Spin Outs. Spin-out 1 includes an early version of the FCS Networked Battle Command, Intelligent Munitions Systems, Unattended Ground Sensors, and the Non-Line of Sight Launch System.

Both the Future Combat Systems spin-outs and the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team are part and parcel of a concerted Army effort to deliver crucial new capabilities to the current force as soon as possible. Thus, Spin-Outs of FCS capabilities to the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team will begin in 2008 and continue every two years thereafter -- well before a complete FCS Brigade Combat Team is fielded.

Future Combat Systems is the Army's first modernization effort in almost four decades. Program costs have remained steady and constant: $120 billion (Fiscal Year 2003 constant dollars) for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) and procurement for 15 Brigade Combat Teams over a two-decade period.

Future Combat Systems modernization costs increased in 2004 only because the Army increased the size and scope of the program. This was done to accelerate the delivery of more modern capabilities to frontline troops. The concurrent procurement of 18 systems has reduced system development and demonstration costs by an estimated $12 billion, while shrinking the development-to-field timeline by about 30 percent. This approach to modernization is saving taxpayers time and money, while giving our Soldiers lifesaving, state-of-the-art capabilities sooner rather than later. This makes Future Combat Systems the Army's most critical investment requirement.

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For additional information please contact Col. John Buckley at (703) 697-4640, john.buckley@hqda.army.mil or Ms. Rebecca Wriggle (703) 697-2163, Rebecca.wriggle@hqda.army.mil

Page last updated Sun September 10th, 2006 at 20:12