FCS Can't Get Any Love

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In the key areas of defining and developing FCS capabilities, requirements definition is still fluid, critical technologies are immature, software development is in its early stages, the information network is still years from being demonstrated, and complementary programs are at risk for not meeting the FCS schedule.

Ouch...

Read the latest in a series of critical GAO reports on the progress of the Army's FCS program.

Even though the development of FCS will finish late in its schedule, commitments to production will come early. Production funding for the first spinout of FCS technologies and the early version of the FCS cannon begin in fiscal years 2008 and 2009.

Why? Because the Oklahoma congressional delegations insist on it for Ft. Sill's sake.

Production money for the core FCS systems will be requested beginning in February 2010, with the DOD fiscal year 2011 budget requestjust months after the go/no-go review and before the stability of the design is determined at the critical design review. In fact, by the time of the FCS production decision in 2013, a total of about $39 billion, which comprises research and development and production costs, will already have been appropriated for the program, with another $8 billion requested.

Doesn't this seem a little backwards? Of course it does. If you're smart, get the money first -- before you've determined if the system really works, right? Can you imagine if we were saying the same thing about missile defense?

Also, the Army plans to contract with its lead system integrator for the initial FCS production, a change from the Armys original rationale for using an integrator. This increases the burden of oversight faced by the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

No way...make it too confusing for anyone else to make sure you're executing the contract in the most efficient manner? Nobody would ever do that!

Competing demands from within the Army and DOD limits the ability to fund higher FCS costs. Thus, the Army will likely continue to reduce FCS capabilities in order to stay within available funding limits.

Again...ouch...

Can we please just call the FCS program what it really is: a technology incubator program, a giant R&D effort for the ground pounders, please? I worry that the Army could begin slipping into the Air Froce trap by defining its future by a specific program.

-- Christian

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