Future Combat Systems

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Future Combat Systems (FCS) was the United States Army's principal modernization program from 2003 to early 2009.[1] Formally launched in 2003, FCS was envisioned to create new brigades equipped with new manned and unmanned vehicles linked by an unprecedented fast and flexible battlefield network. The U.S. Army claimed it was their "most ambitious and far-reaching modernization" program since World War II.[2] Between 1995 and 2009, $32 billion was expended on programs such as this, with little to show for it.[3]

In April and May 2009, Pentagon and army officials announced that the FCS vehicle-development effort would be canceled. The rest of the FCS effort would be swept into a new, pan-army program called the Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization Program.[4]

Development history[edit]

FCS timeline (click to view)

The early joint DARPA–Army Future Combat Systems program to replace the M1 Abrams main battle tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicles envisioned robotic vehicles weighing under six tons each and controlled remotely by manned command and control vehicles.[5]

In February 2001 DARPA awarded $5.5 million to eight teams to develop unmanned ground combat vehicles (UGCV). Teams led by General Dynamics Land Systems, Carnegie Mellon, and Omnitech Robotics were awarded nearly $1 million each to develop UGCVs prototypes. Five other teams were to develop UGCVs payloads.[5]

In May 2003 the DoD commenced the development and demonstration phase in a $14.92 billion contract.[6]

Manned Ground Vehicles family and common chassis

As planned, FCS included the network; unattended ground sensors (UGS); unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); unmanned ground vehicles; and the eight manned ground vehicles.

The Boeing Company and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) worked together as the lead systems integrators, coordinating more than 550 contractors and subcontractors in 41 states.[7]

A spiral model was planned for FCS development and upgrades. As of 2004, FCS was in the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase, which included four two-year spirals. Spiral 1 was to begin fielding in Fiscal Year 2008 and consist of prototypes for use and evaluation. Following successful evaluation, production and fielding of Spiral 2 would have commenced in 2010. The evaluation was conducted by the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF), previously known as Evaluation Brigade Combat Team (EBCT), stationed in Fort Bliss. As of December 2007, AETF consisted of 1,000 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division.[7]

In August 2005, the program met 100% of the criteria in its most important milestone to date, Systems of Systems Functional Review.[8] On October 5, 2005, Pentagon team recommended "further delaying the Army's Future Combat Systems program" in light of the costs of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and expected declines in future budgets.[9]

The Pentagon announced plans in January 2006 to cut $236 million over five years from the $25 billion FCS 2007–2011 budget. The entire program was expected to cost $340 billion.[10] As of late December 2006, funding was scaled back for critical elements of the overall FCS battlespace, and the most advanced elements were deferred.

Decreases in the Army’s funding and the high cost of developing the intelligent munition system caused the DoD to delete the project from the FCS contract, and the XM1100 Scorpion was established as a stand-alone program in January 2007.[11][12]

The Class II and Class III UAVs were canceled in May 2007.[13]

In June 2007, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the "close working relationship" between the Army and the lead system integrators. GAO recommended the Office of the Secretary of Defense reassert its oversight authority and prepare an alternative should FCS be canceled.[14] The Defense Department agreed with the latter suggestion. However, in a rare move, the Army broke step with the Pentagon and posted an indignant response calling the GAO report "rooted in the past, not the present.[15]

The program had completed about one-third of its development as of 2008, which had been planned to run through 2030. Technical field tests began in 2008. The first combat brigade equipped with FCS had been expected to roll out around 2015, followed by full production to equip up to 15 brigades by 2030.[16] However, the program had not met the initial 2004 plan of fielding the first FCS-equipped unit in 2008.[17]

On April 6, 2009, President Barack Obama's Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates announced plans to cut FCS spending as part of a shift toward spending more on counter-terrorism and less to prepare for conventional warfare against large states like China and Russia.[18] This included, but was not limited to, canceling the series of Manned Ground Vehicles.[19]

In May 2009, the proposed DoD budget for fiscal year 2010 has minimal funding for Manned Ground Vehicles research.[20] The Army plans to restart from the beginning on manned ground vehicles.[21] The service is to restructure FCS so more Army units will be supported.[4][22]

Future Combat Systems Background and Issues for Congress report following cancelation

The DoD released a memorandum on 23 June 2009 that canceled the Future Combat Systems program and replaced it with separate programs under the Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization umbrella to meet the Army's plans.[23]


Active Subsystems[edit]

The following subsystems were swept into the Brigade Combat Team Modernization Program:

  • XM1201 Reconnaissance and Surveillance Vehicle (RSV)
  • XM1202 Mounted Combat System (MCS)
  • XM1203 Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C)
  • XM1204 Non-Line-of-Sight Mortar (NLOS-M)
  • XM1205 Recovery and Maintenance Vehicle (FRMV)
  • XM1206 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV)
  • XM1207 Medical Vehicle-Evacuation (MV-E)
  • XM1208 Medical Vehicle-Treatment (MV-T)
  • XM1209 Command and Control Vehicle (C2V)
  • Class II UAVs for Companies (canceled early on)
  • Class III UAVs for Battalions (canceled early on)
  • XM157 Class IV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (swept into BCT Modernization and subsequently canceled)
  • Devices

Operating system[edit]

FCS was networked via an advanced architecture, called System of Systems Common Operating Environment (SOSCOE)[24] that would enable enhanced joint connectivity and situational awareness (see Network-centric warfare). SOSCOE targets x86-Linux, VxWorks, and LynxOS. The FCS (BCT) network consists of five layers that when combined would provide seamless delivery of data: The Standards, Transport, Services, Applications, and Sensors and Platforms Layers. The FCS (BCT) network possesses the adaptability and management functionality required to maintain pertinent services, while the FCS (BCT) fights on a rapidly shifting battlespace giving them the advantage to take initiative. FCS would network existing systems, systems already under development, and systems to be developed.

XM1203 Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon (NLOS-C) prototype in 2009

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colonel John Buckley (2008-01-21). "A Complement to FCS". Army Times.
  2. ^ "DEFENSE SECRETARY GATES OBSERVES ARMY FUTURE COMBAT SYSTEMS PROGRESS". US Fed News Service. 9 May 2008. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  3. ^ Dan Lamothe Washington Post (2018-07-12) Army to unveil details about new Futures Command in biggest reorganization in 45 years
  4. ^ a b Osborn, Kris. "FCS Is Dead; Programs Live On"[dead link]. Defense News. 18 May 2009.
  5. ^ a b "DARPA Picks Eight Teams For Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle Prototypes". Defense Daily. 9 February 2001. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  6. ^ "PENTAGON TO FUND NEXT PHASE OF FUTURE COMBAT SYSTEMS". Advanced Materials & Composites News. 8 March 2002. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  7. ^ a b Alec Klein (2007-12-07). "The Army's $200 Billion Makeover". Washington Post.
  8. ^ "Future Combat Systems (FCS) Successfully Completes Major Program Milestone". Boeing, August 15, 2005]
  9. ^ "Wired News". Archived from the original on 2005-12-23. Retrieved 2005-10-20.. Wired News, October 17, 2005.
  10. ^ "Pentagon takes minimal cut out of Boeing program". Seattle Post Intelligencer, January 25, 2006.
  11. ^ Pernin, Christopher; Axelband, Elliot; Drezner, Jeffrey; Dille, Brian; Gordon IV, John; Held, Bruce; McMahon, Scott; Perry, Walter; Rizzi, Christopher; Shah, Akhil; Wilson, Peter; Sollinger, Sollinger (2012). Lessons from the Army's Future Combat Systems Program (PDF) (Report). RAND Corporation. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 25, 2020 – via Defense Technical Information Center.
  12. ^ Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs (PDF) (Report). United States Government Accountability Office. January 2004. GAO-11-233SP. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 23, 2020 – via Defense Technical Information Center.
  13. ^ Kate Brannen (4 February 2011). "Pentagon ratifies Army modernization decisions". Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  14. ^ Malenic, Marina (11 June 2007). "Vol. 19, No. 23". Inside the Army. Vol. 19, no. 23. Inside Washington Publishers. p. 2. JSTOR 24824516. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  15. ^ Malenic, Marina (16 April 2007). "'It Is Rooted in the Past, Not the Present': Army Faults GAO Study Critical of Future Combat Systems Acquisition". Inside the Army. Vol. 19, no. 15. Inside Washington Publishers. p. 1, 8. JSTOR 24824646. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  16. ^ "Timeline: Army Modernization and Future Combat Systems", Washington Post, December 6, 2007
  17. ^ Department of Defense authorization for appropriations for fiscal year 2004: hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, One Hundred Eighth Congress, first session, on S. 1050, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2004 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the armed forces, and for other purposes [1]
  18. ^ "Military Budget Reflects a Shift in U.S. Strategy". New York Times, April 7, 2009. Retrieved on April 7, 2009.
  19. ^ Cavallaro, Gina (June 11, 2009). "Panel to discuss new ground combat vehicle". Army Times. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
  20. ^ McLeary, Paul. "U.S. Army Ground Vehicles Up and Down"[permanent dead link]. Aviation Week, 8 May 2009.
  21. ^ Military Deputy for Budget Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Mgt and Comptroller) Lt. Gen. Edgar Stanton and Acting Director, Army Budget Office William Campbell May 07, 2009, News Transcript, U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs).
  22. ^ Chavanne, Bettina H. and Michael Bruno. "U.S. Army Continues to Face Pressure on FCS". Aviation Week, 19 May 2009.
  23. ^ "Future Combat System (FCS) Prograto Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization", US DoD, 23 June 2009.
  24. ^ SOSCOE, boeing.com Archived 2008-10-21 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]