Army sheds more remnants of FCS program
Axe falls on unmanned ground sensors and drone, but battlefield network integration continues
The Army continues to shed the remnants of its Future Combat Systems program with the cancellation of the unattended ground sensors and Class 1 unmanned aerial system.
An acquisition decision signed on Feb. 3 by the Defense Department’s Undersecretary for Acquisition, Ashton Carter, has formally ended support for these systems. But DodBuzz reported that the decision to cut the two unmanned components does not mean an end for the Army’s Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT) program.
However, DOD will also continue low-rate initial production of two E-IBCT components, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle and the tactical network system. A DOD statement noted that the network technologies and software serve as a foundation for further growth of the service’s tactical network. This infrastructure will also help support the Army’s acquisition plans for testing and integrating new technologies into its battlefield communications architecture.
What also survived from FCS and E-IBCT are the Network Integration Kits, the common operating environment and radio waveforms. All of these components will be tested by the Army’s Evaluation Task Force, which is a brigade-sized force consisting of infantry, heavy armor and mechanized infantry components. According to the Army, the first fully integrated and tested capabilities set will be ready in 2015-2016.
Despite the loss of the UGS and the Class 1 UAS, the program still retains small-tracked ground robots equipped with cameras and the tactical network. A key piece of the network integration kit is the Joint Tactical Radio System Ground Mobile Radio, which transmits voice and data. NextGov reported that the acquisition decision permits the Army to equip two brigades, each with 81 network integration kits, and three brigades with 38 ground robots each.
Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.