Weight watch

Back on June 13, Defense Tech readers were told of an Inside the Army exclusive -- a story revealing that the Army was set to announce its "design-to-weight" goal for the Future Combat System's Manned Ground Vehicles. Basically, that meant the Army had decided on the final weight for what was supposed to be a lean, mean battle replacement for tanks and other combat vehicles.fcs.jpgAs Noah noted, that weight goal wound up a bit higher than originally expected: 24 tons vs. 19 tons, calling into question whether the thing could be transported via C-130 airlifter -- the Holy Grail of intratheater lift. (At 24 tons, it can't; at 19 tons, maybe, but it won't be fully outfitted -- multiple aircraft would be needed to transport the vehicles and additional equipment to be added once they're on the ground.)The story was based on a draft Army press release that was pretty unequivocal:

On 31 May 2005, the Chief of Staff of the Army announced a decision directing the Program Manager, Unit of Action, to move forward with the 24Ton Design-To-Weight vehicle concept (24Ton). This significant decision provides the endorsement necessary to further posture the Manned Ground Vehicles (MGV) of the FCS program for continued success . . . [and] establishes the design envelope that will allow the platform design teams to move forward in systems engineering and development activities necessary to fully define required platform capabilities.
The word at the time was the Army was holding back on releasing the statement until the right people at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill had been notified.Well, not so fast. According to a story in this week's Inside the Army, the service now is saying it never decided anything.
Army Secretary Francis Harvey told reporters that a decision regarding manned ground vehicle weight had not been reached.Were always re-evaluating the requirements. Its a continuous process to re-evaluate the requirements and the mobility requirements, he said. One key requirement is to be able to provide inter-theater transport on a C-130.So were looking [at] is that still a relevant requirement for FCS? Weve made no decisions on that at all, but I think its always healthy to be looking at the relevancy of the requirement relative to the threat.
What gives? The Army's not saying, acting like the announcement was never drafted. But with a defense budget battle on Capitol Hill, the service may not want any more controversy about weight and C-130 transportability right now.That battle comes down to this: $400 million in cuts proposed by House lawmakers. Inside the Army has another story this week noting that some supporters feel the service hasn't exactly stormed Capitol Hill to fight the House reductions.THERE'S MORE: Boeing, one of the two contractors steering the industry side of the FCS program, has a new CEO who says he likes challenges. He's got plenty.-- posted by Dan Dupont

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