Army readies Future Combat System for next phase

SALT LAKE CITY'The Army this month will submit the latest version of its Future Combat Systems program to the Defense Acquisition Board for formal approval to move from the planning phase into development and demonstration.

A thrust of the Army's May 14 report before the board will be the service's plans to integrate command and control software in FCS vehicles and the subsystems that hook to the vehicles, said Major Gen. Joseph L. Yakovac, program executive officer for ground combat systems in the Tank Automotive and Armaments Command.

The operating system for computers in the program will be Linux, according to a published report from Boeing Co., the lead systems integrator on the project.

The program, managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is now in the concept and development phase.

Army CIO Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello said the most important part of FCS is not the weaponry but the advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies it will use.

"It's not about new tanks, new Bradley [fighting vehicles], new aircraft, it's about the C4ISR," Cuviello said at the Software Technology Conference this week. "That's what's going to make this thing really work. This is all being done through the miracle of technology."

In February, the Army issued a request for proposals to start the system design and demonstration phase of the program to modernize soldiers' equipment and weaponry by developing a 'family of systems,' Yakovac said. The $26 billion RFP covers manned and unmanned systems both airborne and on the ground, and some sensors and common software, Yakovac said.

Last month, the Army Systems Acquisition Review Council approved FCS' entry into the system development and demonstration phase and designated the program as a single Major Defense Acquisition Program.

FCS is a collaborative program run by the Army and DARPA. The fleet of ground battle vehicles being built under the program will eventually tie into the $6.6 billion Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program while fulfilling the Army's vision of the Objective Force, officials said.

Through WIN-T, the Army plans to build a high-speed, high-capacity network for wired and wireless voice, data and video communications for soldiers on the battlefield.

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