The Army’s flagship FCS modernization program was officially cancelled today with the stroke of a pen wielded by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Ashton Carter. The $160 billion program was really cancelled back in April by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but today’s acquisition defense memorandum makes it official.
The ADM ends the Army’s troubled effort to field a family of manned ground vehicles under FCS but paves the way for a new vehicle program. “The ADM directs the Army to identify the most efficient means to end the manned ground vehicle development effort with the least cost to the taxpayer and to use work already completed in any follow-on ground combat vehicle developmental programs.” It directs the Army to undertake, along with the Marine Corps, an assessment of “joint capability gaps for ground combat vehicles.” The assessment is to inform requirements for a new Army combat vehicle, a development effort that is already underway, with the intention of launching a new acquisition program by 2010.
Replacing FCS will be the “Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization,” that collects the remaining bits of FCS under a “modernization plan” consisting of a number of “separate but integrated” acquisition programs. These include efforts to provide technological upgrades, or “spin outs” as they’ve come to be called, to seven infantry brigades in the near term and plans to develop and field additional upgrades to communications networks, new aerial drones, unmanned robots and sensors to all Army brigades some time in the future.
It would appear that OSD is not exactly sure what to do about the Non-Line of Sight Cannon. A Pentagon press release says that by cancelling the FCS vehicles, the ADM will “negatively impact the Army’s ability” to build the cannon as required by a line inserted into the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act of 2009, thanks to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Ok. It goes on to say, “The department is working closely with the Congress to determine the appropriate path forward for the NLOS-C." My guess is that the work around to all this will probably be the inclusion of a self-propelled cannon as part of the Army’s new combat vehicle plan.