Major acquisition programs currently being formulated will replace major fragments of the FCS. For example, instead of the eight variants of the tracked manned Ground Vehicle, cancelled along with FCS, the Army is seeking new vehicles to be developed under the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program being formulated these days.
TRADOC and Ft. Monroe are working to map the capability-gaps existing today and future requirements, that should be answered by a single common vehicle, or several types of GCV. The final assessment of this study is expected around September 2009.
The review will also implement the survivability lessons learned on recent combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were part of the concerns the Department of the Defense had about the previous program, which has also led to the unprecedented rapid acquisition, of well over 25,000 heavily armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in 2008 and 2009. The Pentagon realized that the threat has changed in recent years. Characterized by modern asymmetric warfare, illusive enemy forces are being faced by relatively static regular military forces. These are primarily tasked with security, stability and counter-insurgency type of operations, less suitable for the rapid deployment, in high mobility, area- dominance type of warfare, for which the MGV was originally designed for. To assess the new requirements the Army established a panel of combat experienced and technical experts to take a fresh look at these requirements, including capabilities, technologies and lessons learned from the FCS program. The panel’s recommendations will inform the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s (TRADOC) ongoing work on operational requirements for the ground combat vehicle.
Part of this evaluation will address the obsolescence of the Paladin self propelled gun, which was slated for replacement by the FCS’-Non Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS_C) platform which was the most mature variant of the MGV family of vehicles. While the fielding of the NLOS-C in its present form is unlikely, due to the excessive cost of the unique hybrid-electric powered platform, the automatic cannon weapon system could be reused on an existing, or GCV platform to accommodate a replacement for the current SP artillery.
GCV should support the future networking capabilities required for the future force, while effectively coexisting with current units. A request for proposal for the GCV is expected by early-to mid 2010. Once prime contractors are selected, the Army could expect to get the first vehicles within five to seven years.
The Army’s termination of the MGV segment of FCS also eliminated Boeing and SAIC’s position as Lead Systems Integrators for the program and the Army is expected to select specific prime contractors for each of the future programs. Likely contenders for these programs are the current developers of tracked, or wheeled combat vehicles, including General Dynamics and BAE Systems, both shared the FCS MGV program subcontractors. Yet, if the Army opts for a mix of tracked and wheeled platforms, prime contractor such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman could return to compete for these contracts, renewing teaming with former Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) contenders (Northrop Grumman-Oshkosh and Boeing-Textron Systems were two of the losing bidders) – such a wheeled-tracked split could bring these companies back to the game.
Our BCT Modernization Update covers these topics in four parts:
- New Equipment to Modernize Combat Brigades
- U.S. Army Reshapes its Requirements for the
Future Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV)
- New Networking for the Brigade Combat Team
- Introducing New Technologies to the Warfighter