Army debuts FCS manned ground vehicle

The Army recently unveiled the prototype for its Non Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C), the first manned ground vehicle under the Army's Future Combat Systems initiative. Eight prototypes will be delivered to Yuma Proving Grounds by 2009, with the first five to be delivered by December 2008 and the remainder by early 2009. The announcement coincides with the Army's 233rd birthday this month.

The NLOS-C prototype, designed to be operated by a two-soldier artillery crew, is intended for combat in both urban and conventional battlespace environments. The vehicle uses networked technologies to enable fighters to quickly fire on targets with precision, as well as an automated loading system, projectile tracking and hybrid propulsion.

This is the first of a family of vehicles that will all employ a similar chassis, sharing 80 percent compatibility, maximizing the use of common parts and subsystems. These vehicles will also require less fuel and logistics support than current vehicles in use, being electrically powered. A diesel engine on board will generate the electricity to power the vehicle.

"At Yuma mobility, safety, reliability and gun firing [will be perfomed]," said Lt. Col. Robert McVay, product manager for the NLOS-C. "What the prototype does for the Army is give us the ability to actually do real platform testing of the new technology--of the hybrid electric drive, the traction drive subsystem, the hydropneumatic suspension, the band track and the new 440kW power generator."

The Army primarily will be testing the chassis and its relationship to the mission module. The 38-caliber, 155-mm Howitzer cannon on the vehicle has already been extensively tested, the Army said. The prototype will be tested for two years before a design review in 2010. The cannon system is fully automated and is designed to improve the survivability of both itself and its two-man crew. It can operate in a range of environmental conditions, and designed to work in concert with other FCS manned ground vehicles.

'This is the first time the Army will take a full hybrid-electric, independent semi-active suspension system and mate it with a mission module and run it into tests,' McVay said. "This [prototype] will have [an] impact [on] the other seven vehicles because it allows us to learn what works and what doesn't work before we build the other prototypes that get delivered in 2011.'

The FCS is the cornerstone of the army's modernization efforts, providing leading-edge technologies and capabilities geared for asymmetric ground warfare in remote areas. The program consists of the eight new manned ground vehicles, both air and ground, a launch system, and advanced tactical and urban sensors all network connected. The system is designed to help soldiers share real-time information across the battlefield as well as increase the soldiers' situational awareness, survivability, and lethality.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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