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May 29, 2009
The Future Combat System (FCS) was a multiyear, multibillion dollar program at the heart of the Army's transformation efforts. It is was to be the Army's major research, development, and acquisition program consisting of 14 manned and unmanned systems tied together by an extensive communications and information network. FCS was intended to replace current systems such as the M-1 Abrams tank and the M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. The FCS program has been characterized by the Army and others as a high-risk venture due to the advanced technologies involved and the challenge of networking all of the FCS subsystems together so that
FCS-equipped units could function as intended. The FCS program exists in a dynamic national security environment which ultimately played a role in determining the program's fate. Some questioned if FCS, envisioned and designed prior to September 11, 2001 to combat conventional land forces, was relevant in current and anticipated future conflicts where counterinsurgency and stabilization operations are expected to be the norm. The Army contended, however, that FCS was relevant throughout the "entire spectrum of conflict" and that a number of FCS technologies and systems were effectively used in counterinsurgency and stabilization campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On April 6, 2009, Secretary of Defense Gates announced that he intended to significantly restructure the FCS program. The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to accelerate the spin out of selected FCS technologies to all brigade combat teams (BCTs) but will recommend cancelling the manned ground vehicle (MGV) component of the program, which was intended to field eight separate tracked combat vehicle variants built on a common chassis that would eventually replace combat vehicles such as the M-1 Abrams tank, the M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, and the M-109 Paladin self-propelled artillery system. Secretary Gates was concerned that there were significant unanswered questions in the FCS vehicle design strategy and that despite some adjustments to the MGVs, they did not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary Gates was also critical that the FCS program did not include a role for Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles that have been used successfully in current conflicts. After re-evaluating requirements, technology, and approach, DOD will re-launch the Army's vehicle modernization program, including a competitive bidding process.
Plans for transition from the FCS program to a new program where the Army intends to modernize all BCTs with remaining FCS technologies will likely be of critical congressional interest. The development of a new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) to replaced the cancelled MGVs could also be subject to congressional debate and oversight. This report will be superseded by a report on the Army's BCT Modernization Strategy when sufficient details are available.
Contents Issues for Congress Background FCS Program Origins The FCS Program Program Overview DOD's April 2009 FCS Restructuring Decision Current FCS Program Status Remaining FCS Technologies for Spin Outs The Army's BCT Modernization Strategy Current Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) Details FCS Program Budget Issues FY2010 Budget Request and Savings from the Termination of the Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) FY2010 FCS Budget Request Amounts for FCS Programs Potential Issues for Congress MGV Cancellation Army BCT Modernization Strategy and Spin Outs Proposed Ground Combat Vehicles Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) Replacement? Impact on Operational Concepts and Doctrine Additional Reading Appendixes Appendix. Original FCS Subsystems Contacts Author Contact Information
Issues for Congress
The Future Combat System (FCS) was a multiyear, multibillion-dollar program at the heart of the Army's transformation efforts. It was to be the Army's major research, development, and acquisition program and was to consist of 14 manned and unmanned systems tied together by an extensive communications and information network. FCS was intended to replace current systems such as the M-1 Abrams tank and the M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. The Army's success criteria for FCS was that it should be "as good as or better than" the Army's current force in terms of "lethality, survivability, responsiveness, and sustainability." (1)
The primary issues presented to 111th Congress are how the Army plans to transition from the FCS program to a BCT Modernization Program, incorporating selected remaining FCS technologies in a series of spin outs. Key oversight questions for consideration include the following:
* What are some of the issues resulting from the cancellation of the MGV?
* What is the Army's BCT modernization strategy and spin out plan?
* Is the Army rushing the GCV program?
* Will the Army replace the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C)?
* What is the impact on the Army's operational concept, force structure, and doctrine?
The 111th Congress's decisions on these and other related issues could have significant implications for U.S. national security, Army funding requirements, and future congressional oversight activities.
FCS Program Origins
In October 1999, then Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) General Eric Shinseki introduced the Army's transformation strategy which was intended to convert all of the Army's divisions (called Legacy Forces) into new organizations called the Objective Force. General …