FCS Rolls on, Boeing Receives Another $219M
The Boeing Co. in St. Louis, MO received a $219.2M increment as part of a $17.35 billion cost-plus-fixed-fee/ cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Future Combat System development and demonstration phase. Boeing and SAIC are the lead system integrators for this program, which means they receive instructions from the military re: the capabilities they want, then manage the requirements, development, RFPs and contracts etc. to achieve those goals.
Military reviews are interspersed throughout the process, and indeed the FCS recently passed a “System of Systems” Functional Review that lasted five days and included almost 40 briefings at 24 different sites across the country. Still, the program has definitely had its ups and downs. Readers may wish to view:
- The US Army’s FCS home page, describing their goals and showing all the individual systems & components. This site also has an article about the recent Functional Review that points out just how far beyond an ordinary weapons program FCS is. This is both the program’s biggest potential strength and its biggest potential weakness.
- Defense Tech (Sept 27/05) – Slow, Fat “Future” for Army, A ruthlessly critical and link-filled article re: the FCS program to date. Now, it seems, the program will not be able to provide sufficient protection and still meet its vehicle weight goal – which compromises the “unit of action’s” ability to deploy by C-130 Hercules tactical transports. National Defense Magazine offered some early coverage of that issue back in April 2005.
- Jane’s (Sept 22/05) – “Future Tense” article notes that some FCS systems are beginning to come together, despite the program’s issues.
- Armed Forces Journal (July 2005) – Flawed Combat System. Maj. Daniel L. Davis is an Army armor officer who fought in the Battle of 73 Easting during Desert Storm. His critique of FCS in light of how it matches up against either [a] low-intensity urban warfare in light of recent lessons learned; or [b] a full warfare threat involving China is telling. He does believe some good systems and spin-outs are coming together, but advocates moving the US Army toward the FCS ideal through a very different approach to experimentation and incorporation.
This Article’s Contract
Sept 26/05: The Boeing Co. in St. Louis, MO received a $219.2M increment as part of a $17.35 billion cost-plus-fixed-fee/ cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Future Combat System development and demonstration phase. Work on this contract is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2014, and will be performed in Huntington Beach, CA (23%); St. Louis, MO (18%); Seattle, WA (11%); Sterling Heights, MI (11%); Santa Clara, CA (8%); Washington, DC (7%); Bloomington, MN (5%); Plano, TX (5%); Huntsville, AL (4%); Houston, TX (3%); Philadelphia, PA (3%); Mesa, AZ (1%); and Orlando, FL (1%). This was a sole source contract initiated on Aug. 15, 2005 by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-05-C-0724).
As DID noted in our article about Britain’s transformational FRES program, the speed of technology, juxtaposed with the 10-20 year procurement cycles of advanced militaries, is forcing both exploration of new procurement options and the devolution of more development & specification work to contractors around the world. FCS is one model for doing so. Even if the worst should come to pass and the program should fail, FCS will not represent the last such attempt by any means.
Some Subsequent Coverage
Some key developments and coverage related to the FCS program:
- DID (May 22/07) – Future Combat Systems in the Crosshairs. Even the NLOS-C cannon will be over desired weight limits by about 15,000 pounds, Government Executive Magazine has published a very critical piece, and Congress is making bipartisan recommendations to slash almost $900 million from the FY 2008 budget. Not a good month. DID has the coverage and links.
- US GAO (April 2/07) – Defense Acquisitions: Key Decisions to Be Made on Future Combat System #GAO-07-376. Excerpt: “The Army has been granted a lot of latitude to carry out a large program like FCS this far into development with relatively little demonstrated knowledge. Tangible progress has been made during the year in several areas, including requirements and technology. Such progress warrants recognition, but confidence that the program can deliver as promised depends on high levels of demonstrated knowledge, which are yet to come. Following the preliminary design review in 2009, there should be enough knowledge to demonstrate the soundness of the FCS business case. If significant doubts remain about the program’s executability at that time, DOD will have to consider alternatives to proceeding with the program…”
- DID (Feb 9/07) – USA’s $160+ Billion Future Combat Systems Restructured. 4 systems deferred, one moved out, a couple spin-outs moved up, some investments shifted.
- DID (July 28/06) – JTRS Program to Continue After Restructuring. JTRS is a key component of FCS, as it’s intended to be the key framework through which US military communications systems will work with each other.
- DID (March 13, 2006) – FCS Procurement Structure Comes Under GAO Scrutiny. A GAO report offers a number of intelligent comments re: the program’s procurement approach and requirements.
- DID (Feb 24/06) – Future Combat Systems – Linux Inside? Linux + Intel, it seems.
- DID (Feb 20/06) – Urban Fight the New Baseline: Does FCS Need a Rethink?. An important Pentagon player asks exactly the right question, backed up by lessons from Iraq.
- DID (Dec 21/05) – FCS Spin-Out Plans Detailed. FCS will be arriving in stages, some of which will simply mesh with the regular force. What is expected, and when?
- DID (Oct 21/05) – Sen. McCain Placed in the Unusual Role of Protecting the FCS Program. Future Combat Systems’ biggest critic stands up for its program integrity.