All the unmanned vehicle systems included in the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems’ program successfully completed preliminary design reviews (PDR) this month (March 2009). The UVS Integrated Product Team (IPT) completed the five PDRs ahead of the FCS System-of-Systems (SoS) PDR scheduled for later this spring. The SoS PDR will assess the integration of the program’s individual platforms into a complete SoS architecture and help establish baselines for developing prototypes. The systems that passed the evaluation include three MULE versions, the Small UGV, Class I UAV, and Class IV (Firescout) Vertical Take-off and Landing UAV.

“Each of these unmanned systems plays a critical role in providing soldiers with greater surveillance, reconnaissance and logistical capabilities to increase their effectiveness and survivability on the battlefield.” said Gregg Martin, Boeing vice president and FCS program manager.

The FCS platforms reviewed in the PDRs were the Multifunctional Utility/Logistics Equipment (MULE) family of vehicles and its Autonomous Navigation System (ANS); the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV); the Class I Unmanned Aerial System (UAS); and the Class IV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The MULE and ANS reviews were completed in fiscal year 2008 and included all three MULE variants: the MULE-Transport, the MULE-Countermine and the Armed Robotic Vehicle-Assault (Light). MULE is being developed by Lockheed Martin. The UVS IPT and partner iRobot conducted the SUGV PDR at the iRobot facility in Bedford, Mass., in October.

The UVS IPT and partner Honeywell International conducted the Class I UAS PDR at the Boeing facility in St. Louis in late November. “I am pleased with the progress we have made in the Class I UAS,” said Glenn Morris, LSI program manager for Class I. “The system’s laser target designator will provide a tremendous capability to the soldier, and the team did a great job of preparing for this review.”

Finally, the UVS team and Northrop Grumman Corp. Unmanned Systems successfully conducted the Class IV UAV PDR at the Boeing facility in St. Louis in December. The system is entering the detailed design phase, with prototypes expected to be ready for qualification testing in fiscal year 2011.

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