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FCS Review Paves Way For New Technologies

Brig. Gen. Charles Cartwright (center), program manager for the Unit of Action, examines a model of the CL IV unmanned aerial vehicle, a Future Combat Systems platform.

Washington DC (AFN) Sep 02, 2005
A functional review of the Future Combat Systems program earlier this month opened the way for testing and development of FCS technologies for brigade combat teams.

The FCS technologies include new unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, a common chassis for eight different ground vehicles, smart munitions, unattended ground sensors, a new mortar, the Non-Line-of-Site Cannon, an NLOS launch system and a network to tie all these systems together. There is also a "spin out" of technologies scheduled for fielding to an "experimental unit" in 2008, and fielding to other units of action in 2010, officials said.

Functional review spans 24 sites

The "System of Systems" Functional Review lasted five days during early August and included almost 40 briefings at 24 different sites across the country, said Brig. Gen. Charles Cartwright, program manager for the Unit of Action. He said it was the most extensive review of the FCS program to date.

The review was conducted by the Army and the FCS Lead Systems Integrator, a partnership between Boeing and Science Applications International Corp., or SAIC. About 6,000 employees are currently involved in developing the Future Combat Systems, said Dennis Muhlenburg, vice president and general manager of the FCS Lead Systems Integrator.

The review confirmed that the LSI had met 202 "closure criteria" for FCS, and it examined 550 operational requirements converted into 11, 000 engineering requirements, Cartwright said.

It also identified all of the requirements for a unit of action, Cartwright said; not just the equipment, but also the doctrine, training, tactics, techniques, and procedures that must be developed.

Review focuses on BCT units of action

"The framework for an FCS unit of action is now established," Cartwright said.

Dan Zanini, deputy program manager of the FCS Lead Systems Integrator, compared the functional review to building a house. He said it was like going from an artist¿s rendition to details on what the plumber, electrician and carpenters will actually do, and what each room will look like.

Separate functional reviews for the 18 FCS platforms and the network will be completed in the future, Cartwright said; most of them over the next six months. There are already several key technologies and capabilities in demonstration phases such as the 120 millimeter lightweight cannon, the NLOS Cannon and the 30-millimeter cannon.

Cannon, mortar now being fired

The 120-millimeter lightweight Line of Site cannon is now firing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. The target goal for the weight of the cannon was 4,400 pounds and it came in at 4,140 pounds, Cartwright said, adding that it is doing very well at APG in test firings.

A breach-mounted mortar is also test-firing at APG, Cartwright said, and the NLOS Cannon is firing at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz.

The 30-millimeter cannon for the infantry vehicle is the same weapon that will be used by the Marine Corp and Navy, Cartwright said.

"We already have all of the lethality systems firing right now, with the mortar just beginning firing," Cartwright said. We have a chassis with full hybrid electronics, banded track and active suspension running around now in testing."

UAVs, robots being tested

"We have various active protection systems, close-in active protection systems, being developed and tested, Some of them are successfully bringing down RPGs right now. If you look at the UAVs, the class-four Fire Scout is successfully flying right now for the Navy and the Army," Cartwright said.

Additionally the first-generation of underground robots, known as UGBs, is the PacBot, which is being used in Afghanistan to search caves and in Iraq to identify improvised explosive devices.

"We feel very comfortable with where we stand on the technology and the technology development pieces right now," Cartwright said.

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