attempt to balance between sustaining the current force, and
equipping the future force, the U.S. Army is restructuring and
stretching the "Future Combat Systems" (FCS) program,
eliminating $3.4 billion from its budget over the next five
fiscal years. These savings were achieved by stretching the
fielding of the 15 brigades over five years, starting 2015 and
eliminating or deferring four systems from the 18 planned, including
the Class II and Class III UAVs, the Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV)
and Intelligent Munitions System (IMS). Total cost of the restructured
program is expected to be $162 billion with another $2 billion
slated for additional construction required. The FCS was designed
as a “family” of 18 individual systems, plus the
network and the soldier -- referred to as 18+1+1. With four
of the systems deferred, the system is now 14+1+1.
Most significantly, the changes call for stretching the fielding
of the 15 FCS brigade combat teams from over a 10-year period
to 15 years. The fielding for the first is slated for fiscal
2015. This will reduce costs by roughly $700 million. Army Maj.
Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, deputy for acquisition and systems
management, told Pentagon reporters. Sorenson said that, despite
the cuts, FCS remains the largest modernization program for
the Army. He said that the program is on time, on cost and still
the No. 1 priority of Army leadership.
Besides reducing costs, the changes will deliver future technologies
into the hands of troops in the fight quicker, Sorenson said.
Since 2005 the FCS program was restructured with “spin
out” strategy, enabling rapid fielding of elements of
the FCS family, instead of waiting until the complete system
is fielded. This strategy will enable the fielding of Unmanned
Ground Systems (UGS) and part of the network by fiscal year
2008. The network, which will enhance battle command capabilities,
will be available as much as two years earlier under the restructuring.
All four systems eliminated from the FCS programs are unmanned
systems. These include the Class
II and Class III unmanned aerial systems (UAS), which were
considered to be low priority for some time, the Armed Robotic
Vehicle, considered to be the largest and most expensive system
among the FCS Unmanned Ground Vehicles family, and the Intelligent
Munitions System (IMS), an array of unattended, autonomous
and remotely controlled weapons designed to enable warfighters
to remotely dominate an area by selectively denying movement
and enemy activity.
these systems are eliminated, some of the fund savings will
be diverted to increasing procurement of the remaining systems,
such as Honeywell's Class
I mini-UAV and Northrop Grumman's Class IV FireScout. The
funds saved by the deferred ARV will be allocated to larger
procurements of other, smaller UGVs. The ARV included two types
of vehicles. Apparently, both will be shleved for some time.
The IMS program was separated from FCS. The systems currently
being contracted will be fielded. Elimination of IMS will, however,
require investment of released funds into other sensors in the
Companies affectd by the decision could be Textron Systems,
a Textron Inc. company (NYSE:TXT), the prime contractof for
the IMS program, and BAE Systems, which was involved with the
ARV. However, both companies are heavily engaged with other
elements of the FCS program. For example, Textron Systems is
also pursueing the FCS-UGS system which should receive more
focused resulting from the elimination of IMS. Honeywell (NYSE:
HON) which was working on a candisdate for Class II UAV, Piasecki
Aircraft Corp. and Aurora
Flight Sciences, which was working on models for bot classes.
Companies about to gain from the new plan are Honeywell, which
could get increased orders for its mini-UAV (Class I) and Northrop
Grumman (NYSE: NOC), which could get a larger share for its
Class IV (Fire Scout).