Army plans to roll out some parts of FCS by year's end

The Army will accelerate work on its massive Future Combat Systems program to deliver a communications capability and some unmanned systems to warfighters in Iraq by the end of this year, program officials said last week.

Army officials said the integrated communications network won't be fully developed until 2014. But the 3rd Infantry Division will return to Iraq later this year with some initial FCS capabilities.

Those capabilities include new radio waveforms as part of the Joint Tactical Radio System, voice over IP and some capabilities involving unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Army had previously set a deadline of 2010 to develop 13 of the 18 FCS systems. There was no timeline laid out for development of the remaining five systems.

Under what Army officials are calling an 'accelerated schedule,' all 18 of the FCS systems will be rolled out by 2014, adding at least $5 billion in research and development costs to the $14.92 billion price tag.

Army disagrees with GAO

Army officials insist the program is not over cost or schedule, contradicting an April report from the Government Accountability Office that predicted continued cost and scheduling problems with the program.

'We're on cost and schedule, amazingly, because this is a difficult program,' said Lt. Gen. Joseph Yakovac, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. 'We're right where we said we would be in terms of the engineering effort.'

Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego are the lead systems integrators.

The program is still in the development and demonstration phase, with Boeing and SAIC designing, developing and testing prototypes.

Computers in the program will run the Linux operating system, according to a Boeing official working on the project.

FCS will include advanced weapons and other technology, but the key to the program is the interoperability it will derive from putting a variety of systems on a single network.

The Army has requested $3.2 billion for FCS acquisition costs in fiscal 2005, but recently learned that a congressional committee voted to reduce that amount by $268 million.

Yakovac said the service has adjusted the scope of the contract to account for the proposed reduction.


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