Boeing and Science Applications International (SAIC) have begun looking for contributors to design and develop the Future Combat System (FCS), a network of manned and unmanned ground and air vehicles intended to transform the US Army's mobility.

A Boeing/SAIC team has been selected as lead systems integrator for the Army/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) FCS programme. International involvement is possible, says US Army assistant secretary for acquisition Claude Bolton. "We are open to take a look [at international participation] and will over the next year," he says. "Could FCS be like the Joint Strike Fighter? I don't know."

Boeing/SAIC beat teams led by General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin to win the 16-month, $154 million FCS concept and technology development contract. This could be followed by a system demonstration and development phase worth $4-5 billion.

The team does not include hardware producers, so Boeing and SAIC are seeking contributions from others. As well as manned and robotic combat, scout and re-supply vehicles, FCS is likely to include micro, organic and endurance unmanned air vehicles for reconnaissance and targeting, deployment of unattended ground sensors and communications relay. Self-locating launchers will house non-line-of-sight and loitering missiles all linked by a mobile self-forming network.

FCS elements are to be transportable in the Lockheed MartinC-130, setting a 20t weight limit. The army's goal is, by 2010, to be able to deploy a brigade in 96h, a division in 120h and five divisions in 30 days, says Bolton.

Boeing/SAIC will define the FCS architecture, help develop specifications, integrate the system and manage its configuration, inserting new technologies as they become available. The first FCS unit is due to be ready for action in 2008.

Source: Flight International