Future Combat Systems (FCS) is the United States Army's principal modernization program. FCS includes 14+1+1 systems consisting of unattended ground sensors (UGS), the Non-Line of Sight – Launch System (NLOS-LS), two classes of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) organic to platoon, and Brigade Combat Team (BCT) echelons; two classes of unmanned ground vehicles, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV), and Multifunctional Utility/Logistics and Equipment Vehicle (MULE) variants; and the eight manned ground vehicles (14 individual systems), plus the network (14+1), plus the Soldier (14+1+1).
FCS is intended to be a joint (across all US military services) networked system of systems, although it is being developed by a US Army program office. The Boeing Company and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) are partnered together as the lead systems integrator for this program which involves more than 550 contractors and subcontractors in 41 states .
The program has completed about one third of its development which extends to 2030. Technical field test begins in 2008. The first combat brigade equipped with FCS is expected to roll out around 2015, followed by full production to equip as many as 15 brigades by 2030.
FCS includes numerous subsystems:
Future Force Warrior
Manned Ground Vehicles
XM1201 Reconnaissance and Surveillance Vehicle (RSV)
XM1202 Mounted Combat System (MCS)
XM1203 Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C)
XM1204 Non-Line-of-Sight Mortar (NLOS-M)
XM1205 Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle (FRMV)
XM1206 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV)
XM1207 Medical Vehicle (MV)
XM1208 Medical Vehicle (MV)
XM1209 Command and Control Vehicle (C2V)
Unmanned ground vehicle
XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV)
XM1217 Multifunctional Utility/Logistics and Equipment (MULE)
XM1218 Multifunctional Utility/Logistics and Equipment (MULE)
XM1219 Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV)
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
XM156 Class I UAV
MQ-8B Class IV UAV
XM501 Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS)
Intelligent Munitions System (IMS)
Unattended Ground Sensors (UGS)
Quick Kill active protection system (APS)
(Exclusively aquatic vehicles and manned aerial vehicles are outside the scope of FCS. Having unique requirements, they are the traditional realm of the US Navy, Army Aviation and the US Air Force.)
FCS is networked via an advanced architecture, called System of Systems Common Operating Environment (SOSCOE)  that will enable unprecedented levels of joint connectivity and situational awareness (See: Network-centric warfare) The FCS (BCT) network consists of five layers that when combined provides seamless delivery of data: The Standards, Transport, Services, Applications, and Sensors and Platforms Layers. The FCS (BCT) network possesses the adaptability and management functionality required to maintain pertinent services, while the FCS (BCT) fights on a rapidly shifting battlespace giving them the advantage to see first, understand first, act first, and finish decisively.
FCS will network existing systems, systems already under development, and systems to be developed.
FCS proponents praise its ambitious approach to linking state-of-the-art sensors, platforms, and weapons seamlessly across its network. FCS critics claim its network architecture is too "closed" (i.e. does not interact seamlessly with non-FCS programs), too expensive, and too long in the fielding.
Development and timeline:
FCS will use a spiral model for development and upgrades. As of 2004, FCS is in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, which includes four two-year spirals. Spiral 1 will begin fielding in Fiscal Year 2008 and consist of prototypes for use and evaluation. Following successful evaluation, production and fielding of Spiral 2 will commence in 2010. The evaluation is conducted by the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF), previously known as Evaluation Brigade Combat Team (EBCT), stationed in Fort Bliss. As of December 2007, AETF consists of 1,000 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division.
To date, the program continues to perform well. In August 2005, the program met 100% of the criteria in its most important milestone to date, Systems of Systems Functional Review.
On October 5, 2005, Pentagon team recommended "further delaying the Army's Future Combat Systems program, led by Boeing Co." in light of the costs of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and expected declines in future budgets.
"Pentagon takes minimal cut out of Boeing program" - the Pentagon announced it plans to cut the 2007-2011, $25 billion FCS budget by only $236 million dollars spread over the next 5 years. The entire program is expected to cost $340 billion. The cut is seen as "positive" for the Boeing Company.
As of late December 2006, funding has been scaled back for critical elements of the overall FCS battlespace, and the most advanced elements have been deferred.
A Peek Inside the Shed
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