An FCS Bridge to the Cold War

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The future is now.

Or maybe a year to 18 months from now.

That's about how long it would take L3 Communications to prep and demonstrate extending Future Combat Systems capabilities to the Army's Cold War generation systems.

FCS envisions all battlespace intel -- drawn from satellites, electronic warfare aircraft and other signal intelligence platforms -- feeding all targeting data to its signals intelligence ground station called Prophet, a trio of vehicles linked to a Humvee-based command station. The data is crunched or fused at Prophet, creating an accurate and complete picture of the battlespace and targets that then can be dispatched to a combat unit or vehicle.

But FCS as envisioned extends to just a relative handful -- maybe 15 to 17 -- of the Army's 70-plus brigades.

Left out of the vision will be the Army's M1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, says Mark Landrith, director of combat systems for L3's ComCept division.

What L3 proposes is bridging the older platforms with the FCS, so that every Army brigade will have the same kind of capabilities.

Landrith said a demonstration could be readied anywhere from 12 to 18 months from now if the Army wanted a test. He said a limited demonstration might transmit data from an RC-135V/W Rivet Joint surveillance to the Prophet system, and from there to whatever vehicle was selected for the test.

The demonstration would cost in the area of about $1 million, he estimated.

-- Bryant Jordan

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