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Magazine / DEFENSE

The Army's Tech Upgrades: One Mission, Many Schedules

September 20, 2008

The Army describes its Future Combat System program as a comprehensive technological upgrade for its entire force -- but three other independent programs are producing equipment necessary to make the FCS function. Coordinating the disparate parts of the program is proving difficult.

Future Combat System (FCS)

A $128 billion suite of robots and manned vehicles with a mobile network to make them function as an integrated force.

Key Component: Infantry brigade enhancements

 

Status Report:

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 2008

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2009, 2010

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Description: Starting in 2011, the Army plans to issue to infantry brigades a subset of FCS equipment called "Spin-Out 1": a Humvee-based interim network, a missile launcher, and a series of unmanned sensors, some stationary, some robotic, and some flying.

Key Component: New-type FCS brigades

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2012, 2013, 2014

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2015

Description: 2015 is the target date to field the FCS "core program," which includes the manned armored vehicles, the remaining robots, and the full-up wireless network.

Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)

An effort to develop new "digital" radios for all four services: Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. Estimated Army cost: $15 billion.

Key Component: JTRS portable radios

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 2008

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2009

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Description: The Ground Soldier Ensemble (see below) will use portable versions of the new JTRS radio to bring network capabilities to troops on foot.

Key Component: JTRS radios for vehicles

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 2008

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2009, 2010

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Description: The FCS program's manned and unmanned vehicles will rely on JTRS ground-mobile radios to exchange data over the new network.

Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T)

Connects units in the field to headquarters to share data. Estimated cost: at least $7.4 billion.

Key Component: Current version

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 200, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Description: The military is now issuing the "Joint Network Node," considered the first increment of WIN-T, to stationary command posts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Key Component: Interim version

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 2008

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2009

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Description: An upgraded version, called "Increment 2," will be designed for quick set-up and take-down in mobile command posts.

Key Component: Full version

Development Prototype equipment being tested by program managers. 2008, 2009, 2010

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2015

Description: Increment 3 of WIN-T will provide the capability to communicate continuously over the network while on the move, which is essential to the FCS vision.

Ground Soldier Ensemble

Formerly called Land Warrior, this program brings networking capabilities to foot soldiers. Estimated cost: $4 billion to $5 billion.

Refinement Testing conducted by independent evaluators. 2008, 2009, 2010

Fielding Equipment being issued to operational units. 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

SOURCES: Government Accountability Office; U.S. Army; National Journal estimates

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