FCS programme completes “System of Systems” design review


The just-cancelled Future Combat Systems (FCS) programme last week successfully completed its System of Systems Preliminary Design Review (SoS PDR), main contractors Boeing and Science Applications International Corporation say in what appears to be the start of a publicity campaign to rescue the project.

The SoS PDR is the most comprehensive review of the programme to date the two companies say in a joint statement issued just days after the Pentagon chief arms buyer Ashton Carter pronounced the entire $160 billion project dead.

“FCS has been stopped. It’s the entire programme,” Carter told reporters after addressing an event hosted by the Center for Naval Analyses, noting that the program includes many different elements. “Now we’ll have to see what to do with these different pieces.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates last month said he planned to cancel the manned ground vehicle part of the huge FCS program to better integrate lessons learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was not clear at the time that the Pentagon meant to revamp the entire program.

Boeing and SAIC says the review “validated that the designs for all FCS systems and subsystems, including the network, sensors, weapons and manned and unmanned vehicles, meet current requirements and will function as an integrated system of systems.

“The review proved that a family of networked systems will provide greater combat capabilities, including enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, across the full spectrum of conflict,” Boeing and SAIC add.

The review involved representatives from the US Army, Boeing, SAIC, industry partners and other government agencies. It was conducted from May 11-14 at the Boeing facility in St. Louis.
“This review marks a major milestone for the programme,” said Gregg Martin, Boeing vice president and FCS program manager.

“It represents an end-to-end assessment that the programme is meeting the Army’s mission needs. This accomplishment was made possible by the hard work and dedication of the thousands of people who are part of the FCS team. We look forward to building on the substantial investments and progress made to date on the program in support of the Army’s full spectrum modernisation objectives,” Martin added despite Carter`s pronouncement.    

SAIC Senior Vice President and FCS Deputy Program Manager Dan Zanini noted that “every system already has a functioning prototype undergoing test and evaluation, which greatly reduces risk for the balance of the programme.”

The SoS PDR brought together the preliminary designs and architecture of the FCS brigade to assess them at an integrated level. In addition, the performance of the brigade design was compared with Army requirements.
“Our combined team — Army, Boeing-SAIC and our industry partners — has done an incredible job preparing for and completing this milestone,” said John Elbon, Boeing vice president and head of FCS Systems of Systems Integration. “It’s amazing to see the capabilities the networked brigade brings to the warfighter.”