The Pentagon gave Boeing a nice Christmas present – approval by the Defense Acquisition Board on Dec. 24 of the remnants of the Future Combat System to equip one Brigade Combat Team for test and evaluation.
This tentatively clears the way for the crucial FCS network to go ahead, as well as technologies such as the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, the Class 1 Block 0 Unmanned Air System, Unattended Ground Sensors and the Non-Line of Sight Launch System. But the DAB also imposed important conditions on the Low Rate Initial Production decision, said a source familiar with the program.
The DAB requires the Army to submit to two interim DAB reviews, one in March 2010 that will examine network maturity and require an update on its reliability and maintainability. It will also require an update on the limited user test of the NLOS launch system (fondly known as rockets in a box) the mo nth before.
Then in December 2010 the DAB will review results from another limited user test scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2010. It will also review progress on the network again, our source said.
Paul Mehney, chief spokesman for these Army systems, said the Army did not yet have cost estimates for the BCT equipment approved for LRIP. He noted that Boeing received $18 million for long lead time items in May this year. Then the Army issued an RFP in fall and Boeing responded to this "a few weeks ago,” he said. The PEO for integration is reviewing Boeing’s response and will soon enter into negotiations with Boeing for the BCT equipment, which must be delivered by early 2011.
In a clear sign of the importance of this award to Boeing, the new president and CEO of its Integrated Defense Systems unit issued the company’s statement today.
"The decision to enter initial production demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to develop and field the types of networked capabilities and technologies that our warfighters need today in Afghanistan," said Dennis Muilenburg.