The Army and senior OSD leadership are debating whether to eliminate all but one of the eight FCS vehicles, a Hill source says. The sole surviving vehicle would be, not surprisingly, the Non Line of Sight Cannon.
But the plan being considered would save a relatively paltry $500 million in 2010. As the Hill source noted, the FCS network and software comprise "most" of the R and D money.
Also, an industry source pointed out that as the number of vehicles in the program shrinks, so does the viability of the network. "The development of the FCS network is linked to the development of FCS Manned Ground Vehicles. Each MGV acts as a node in the ground based aspect of the network. So cutting MGVs reduces the viability of the network," the industry source said.
But because so much of the FCS program depends on economies of scale from building vehicles on a common chassis, the Army would be hard pressed to save a great deal. The Hill source noted that half of the research and development costs are for the chassis and you would still be developing and building the chassis, no matter how many vehicles you killed.
The Army wanted had a very different plan to restructure the Future Combat System in the out years, but the OSD said no to it because it saved almost nothing in the short term. Now the Army is wrestling with those notorious meanies at PA and E over the program's very future.
Of course, building NLOS would help remove one very prominent irritant, from the Pentagon's point of view. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has prodded and pushed the Army for years to build NLOS and to build as many of them as possible. He wants to protect jobs at Fort Sill, the Army's artillery center.
If the Army were to designate NLOS as the new service artillery piece to replace the aging Paladin system, that would probably mollify Inhofe.
The Hill source said the Army probably would continue with Spin Out One from FCS in the next budget. That includes network integration kits for Abrams, Bradleys and Humvees, of which computers and Joint Tactical Radio System Ground Mobile Radio are a large part. Also on the list are the Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors and NLOS.