Major Acquisition Programs

The five leading acquisition programs within the Army are:

  1. Future Combat System (FCS)
  2. Black Hawk Utility Helicopter (UH-60M)
  3. Patriot Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)
  4. Chinook Cargo Helicopter (CH-47)
  5. Longbow Apache Attack Helicopter (AH-64)


Major Acquisition Programs:
Future Combat Systems

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What is it? The Future Combat Systems (FCS)-equipped Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) will be the Army's future tactical warfighting echelon. They will provide the Combatant Commander a dominant ground combat force. The FCS-equipped BCT will consist of the following elements:

FCS includes eighteen-plus-one-plus-one (18+1+1) core systems.

What has the Army done? FCS is now in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase. The FCS acquisition program was approved by the Defense Acquisition Board in May 2003. FCS has been designated a Joint Services program with an Army and Marine Joint Program Office. On July 22, 2004, Army officials announced plans to accelerate the delivery of selected FCS to the current force. The plan expands the scope of the program's SDD phase by adding four discrete "spin outs" of capabilities at two year increments for the current forces.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? Spin out one will begin fielding in 2008 and consist of prototypes fielded to the Evaluation brigade combat team (EBCT). Following successful evaluation, production and fielding of spin out one will commence in 2010. This process will be repeated for each successive spin out. By 2014, the EBCT will be equipped with all FCS core systems. Other BCTs will have selected embedded FCS capability.

Why is this important to the Army? FCS is the Army's main modernization program for the 21st century. It will ensure that the Army retains the combat advantage in critical capabilities- net-centricity, mobility, and a more efficient use of materiel and personnel. When fielded to the force, FCS will replace 40 year old equipment designed to win against Cold War enemies. FCS benefits the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Operations Forces and the Nation.


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Major Acquisition Programs:
Black Hawk Utility Helicopter (UH-60M)

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What is it? The Blackhawk Utility Helicopter (UH-60) is the Army's current and future force utility and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopter. The UH-60 provides the commander with rapid and agile maneuver capability through air assault, general support, Army Airborne Command and Control System (A2C2S) and MEDEVAC. The UH-60 gives Commanders the ability to initiate, conduct and sustain combat operations by providing internal and/or external lift of troops, weapon systems, supplies and equipment. In the A2C2S role, it provides full joint and combined interoperability with other Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance elements to Commanders at all echelons. The UH-60 is also utilized in support of homeland security and natural disaster relief operations, such as fire suppression, personnel recovery and key personnel transport. The UH-60 is vital to the homeland security needs of our nation.

What has the Army done? The Army will procure new UH-60M and HH-60M (MEDEVAC variant) in order to extend:

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army will continue to integrate emerging technology enhancements into the UH-60M fleet and subsequent variants to increase the reliability, availability and maintainability of the platform through addition of technologies such as Embedded Diagnostics and Prognostics. Furthermore, the Army plans to enhance aircraft safety by:

Other improvements include:

All measures are shared with the Special Operations aviation community. The UH-60M, HH-60M, and MH-60M (Special Operations variant) are expected to meet utility, special operations, and medical evacuation requirements through 2025. More importantly, the UH-60M platform will enable operational commanders to obtain enhanced battlefield situational awareness, through new Battle Command capabilities provided by the UH-60M hosting of the A2C2S. The Army also plans several weight reduction initiatives such as composite tail cone and driveshaft and integration of FBW technologies. In addition, the Army Special Operations Aviation Regiment will be upgrading their current MH-60 fleet to incorporate these same technologies. The UH-60M, HH-60M and MH-60M variants are expected to meet Utility, Special Operations and MEDEVAC mission requirements through 2025.

Why is this important to the Army? This approach will provide the operational commander with a modernized air assault, MEDEVAC and C2 platform, that is a more capable, reliable, and operationally available to meet the future force Modular Brigade Combat Teams support and operational warfighting requirements.


Major Acquisition Programs:
Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS)

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What is it? The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) is the Army's next generation of air and missile. It is designed to provide a robust, 360 degree defense against the full spectrum of ballistic missiles, anti-radiation missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, tactical air to surface missiles, as well as rotary and fixed wing threats. MEADS is a cooperative development by Germany, Italy, and the United States. MEADS will field firing units with lightweight launchers, search radars, multiple function fire control radars, a battle manager, and associated equipment. The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile will be the interceptor as the system is fielded.

What has the Army done? Since approval by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, the Army has entered into an agreement with Italy and Germany to jointly develop the MEADS ground system. Prototype demonstrations have been conducted of key components of the system, demonstrating technical maturity appropriate for this phase of the design effort. On May 31, 2005, the partner nations signed an eight year contract for the design and development of the MEADS system.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army will continue to participate in the design, development, and testing of the system with the partner nations. Ultimately, MEADS will replace the Patriot in the Army's composite air defense battalions.

Why is this important to the Army? MEADS will provide the Army enhanced force protection against a broad array of third dimension threats. The improvements in interoperability, mobility, and full 360 degree defense capability against the evolving threat represent a key aspect of the modernization of Army Air Defense. The fielding of the MEADS system will allow the Patriot system to be retired after more than twenty years of service. MEADS will provide an improved capability to continue to defend our troops, friends, and allies in critical places around the globe.


Major Acquisition Programs:
Chinook Cargo Helicopter (CH-47)

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What is it? The Chinook Cargo Helicopter (CH-47) is a twin-turbine, tandem-rotor, heavy-lift transport helicopter with a useful load of up to 25,000 pounds. The Chinook entered Army service in the early 1960s with a CH-47A, B, or C model designation. From 1980 through 1993, the early model aircraft were remanufactured to the current CH-47D configuration. Today, 46 percent of the Army's CH-47D fleet was originally manufactured prior to 1966. As the Army's only heavy lift helicopter, the mission of the CH-47 is to transport troops (including air assault), supplies, weapons, and other cargo in combat, combat support and service support operations.

What has the Army done? Key modifications integrated into the CH-47F include:

The CH-47F also incorporates reliability and maintainability improvements including airframe tuning for vibration reduction, corrosion protection, digital source collectors, and an automated maintenance program with a 400-hour phase interval.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The CH-47F is expected to remain the Army's heavy lift helicopter until at least the 2020-2025 timeframe. The total CH-47 program remanufactures CH-47Ds and Special Operations Aviation MH-47s to the CH-47F/MH-47G configuration and procures new CH-47F aircraft to meet the Army Aviation transformation full requirement for Chinook aircraft. Currently on contract for 27 CH-47F aircraft, first deliveries are scheduled for September 2006.

Why is this important to the Army? With its high altitude and payload capability, the CH-47F is vital to the Global War on Terrorism and Homeland Security needs of our nation. Secondary missions include medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drops, disaster relief, and search and rescue. These aircraft are fielded to heavy lift helicopter companies and Special Operations aviation. The CH-47F recapitalization program will provide a more reliable, less costly to operate state-of-the-art aircraft compatible with joint digital connectivity requirements with an extended life of approximately 20 years.


Major Acquisition Programs:
Longbow Apache Attack Helicopter (AH-64)

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What is it? The Longbow Apache Attack Helicopter (AH-64) is a two-engine, four-bladed, tandem seat, attack helicopter armed with a 30mm cannon, 2.75" rockets, and Hellfire missiles. It is the heavy attack helicopter of the current and future force. It is capable of conducting the full spectrum of warfare from Stability and Support Operations to Major Combat Operations. It conducts the missions of armed reconnaissance, close combat, mobile strike, and vertical maneuver when required in day, night, obscured battlefield and adverse weather conditions, in support of the joint/combined arms commander's scheme of maneuver.

What has the Army done? The Apache helicopter has continued to demonstrate its high level of effectiveness, survivability, and lethality in combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Nonetheless, the Army determined critical capability gaps that currently exist in the areas of aircraft performance, digital interoperability, operations and support, multi-spectral sensors, and cognitive decision aiding. These identified capability gaps served as the basis for determining the corresponding requirements and next set of upgrades to the Apache helicopter.

What efforts does the Army plan to continue in the future? The Army is modernizing the Apache fleet to the Block III configuration (AH-64D). Longbow Block III addresses the critical capability gaps in the areas of aircraft performance, digital interoperability, operations & support, multi-spectral sensors, and cognitive decision aiding. These capability gaps are being addressed through the incorporation of several hardware and software technology insertions into the aircraft. The Army will initially re-manufacture its Block I Longbow Apaches into the Block III configuration, followed by its Block II Longbow Apaches. The first deliveries of Block III will be in 2010, with the first unit equipped in 2011.

Why is this important to the Army? AH-64D Block III is a network centric, multi-role weapon system, fully interoperable with joint, current, and future force systems. It is linked to joint and combined arms air/ground maneuver teams via Open System Architecture and advanced, line-of-sight/beyond-line-of-sight, voice and digital communications. It operates in support of Brigade Combat Teams to enable the air-ground synergy required for armed reconnaissance, mobile strike, close combat, and vertical maneuver missions in the contemporary operating environment. Additionally, Block III conducts shaping operations, enables precision engagement, and provides actionable combat information. It will be more deployable and sustainable due to enhanced reliability, improved diagnostics, and reduced logistical footprint and tail.