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Future Combat Systems (FCS)
Future Combat System (FCS)

The Future Combat Systems (FCS), formerly known as Future Ground Combat Systems (FGCS) program, an out-growth of the Mobile Tactical Operations Center, will develop network centric concepts for a multi-mission combat system (MMCS). The Future Combat Systems will develop the capability to rapidly project a dominant ground force anywhere in the world within days. This strategically deployable, tactically superior and sustainable force will provide a quick reaction capability conflicts arise in the 21st century. This requisite capability may require advanced technologies, a revolution in both strategy and tactics, and innovative Industrial teaming. This is a unique opportunity to develop a system of systems design starting with a "clean sheet of paper" that will separate the manned C2 Vehicle from the sensors and separate robotic firing platforms to develop a strategically deployable, affordable force for the 2012-2025 timeframe and beyond. This program will consider and evaluate key promising combat vehicle technologies such as lethality, propulsion, mobility, survivability, robotics, ergonomic, and C4ISR technologies for inclusion into potential combat vehicle platforms. The goal of the FCS project is to strike an optimum balance between critical performance factors, including ground platform strategic, operational and tactical mobility; lethality; survivability; and sustainability. The FCS program will not exclude any promising technologies which are on a parallel development path which could later be inserted during the course of production and/or as part of Pre-Planned Product Improvements (P3I). Key to this effort will be the Systems Concept. A significant element will be the development of a technology roadmap for the Army to use in the eventual production of the FCS.

The Future Combat Systems solution will not be a single vehicle system. While it may turn out that the functional and tactical requirements for FCS can be achieved by a single vehicle system or platform, it is equally reasonable to think that the requirements may best be met by one or more vehicle system sets. The FCS could be a distributed network centric system with all of the functionality necessary to be successful on the modern battlefield distributed among multiple vehicle elements whose capabilities sum to the capabilities necessary for victory in all forms of combat. This versatility will be realized through emphasis on an open architecture system concept, with an easily upgradeable and tailorable design approach to enable the system to engage in different missions as needed.

The Army Science and Technology Program is undergoing a major realignment and acceleration to address the Army Vision. In particular, the FY01 budget funds the Future Combat System (FCS) to focus science and technology on the development of Objective Force capabilities. The Army will investigate possibilities for a FCS that is an innovative, multi-mission system, optimizing commonality of component and subsystems, affordability, deployability, survivability, and lethality to meet ground force requirement for the Objective Force. The FCS will feature affordable sustainment costs, reduced logistics requirements, and a decrease in crew size as compared to the current systems. The Army is accelerating the research and development of this system and anticipates equipping its first unit with the FCS as soon as technology is available.

The FCS is envisioned to be an ensemble of manned and potentially unmanned combat systems, designed to ensure that the Objective Force is strategically responsive and dominant at every point on the spectrum of operations from non-lethal to full scale conflict. FCS will provide a rapidly (C-130) deployable capability for mounted tactical operations by conducting direct combat, delivering both line-of-sight (LOS) and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) precision munitions, providing variable lethal effect (non-lethal to lethal), performing reconnaissance, and transporting troops. Significant capability enhancements will be achieved by developing multi-functional, multi-mission and modular features for system and component commonality that will allow for multiple state-of-the-art technology options for mission tailoring and performance enhancements. The FCS force will incorporate and exploit information dominance to develop a common, relevant operating picture and achieve battlespace situational understanding.

The Future Combat Systems will be a multi-functional, multi-mission re-configurable system of systems to maximize joint inter-operability, strategic transportability and commonality of mission roles including direct and indirect fire, air defense, reconnaissance, troop transport, counter mobility, non-lethal and C2 on the move. The goal of this effort is to develop a network centric advanced force structure, quantify its benefits and identify materiel solutions and technologies within the context of that force. It will also identify Doctrine, Operational, Training, Leader and Material (DOTLM) specific changes necessary as a result of the development of this network centric advanced force structure.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has teamed with the US Army to develop the Future Combat Systems. The government is teaming with industry to develop a more effective ground force for the new millennium. The FCS program is envisioned as a Simulation Based Acquisition (SBA) program, which DARPA will implement as a Simulation and Modeling for Acquisition, Requirements and Training (SMART) Program. The FCS program will maximize the use of modeling and simulation throughout its life cycle. The TRADOC Analysis Center (TRAC), the Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA), the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and many other government agencies will participate in the Design Concepts Phase by providing support to contractors. ARL leads the engineering level (technical) analytic effort, while TRAC leads the operational analysis. AMSAA leads the integration efforts across the breadth of analyses in support of the FCS program. TRAC, ARL, and AMSAA will also assist the government in selecting the concepts that will continue into the next phase of the FCS program.

The Army will, in partnership with DARPA, develop FCS systems concepts, perform experiments to validate and refine those concepts, and conduct technology demonstrations. Multiple awards are expected to be made to Industry teams for the initial 24-month Design Concepts Phase. The Government expects to fund each agreement at $10 million, subject to the availability of funds. In addition to Government funding, Industry team cost sharing is encouraged. For example, cost sharing could be in the form of capital. The Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase will commence in FY06.

The Future Combat System (FCS) is a revolutionary, "leap ahead" system to form the centerpiece of the Army's ground combat force to be fielded between FY2015 and FY2020. It will be a highly mobile, deployable, lethal and survivable platform, incorporating advanced technology components to enable a significant increase in combat effectiveness. Senior Army leaders explicitly rejected an Abrams-based evolutionary approach to a Future Main Battle Tank. Instead, the Army will invest in a leap ahead capability that will be the heart of mounted close-combat for the Army After Next. The FCS will blend the capabilities of several battlefield operating systems into a common platform that will reengineer the close fight.

The objective of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) effort is to develop lightweight (no individual element greater than 20 tons), overwhelmingly lethal, strategically deployable, self-sustaining and survivable combat and combat support force, systems and supporting technologies for the 2012-2025 timeframe and beyond. Additionally, it is anticipated that the aggregate force will be significantly (at least 50%) lighter than the existing force structure at equivalent force level. The Future Combat Systems will be a single multi-functional system (or system of systems) which optimizes performance of the force leveraging on the advanced technologies (with the capability to incorporate future advances).

The FCS will be light enough to permit two systems for transport on a C17. Full second generation digital systems will provide the nexus for combined arms operations, fully embedded training, and ease of system operation. The FCS will have the sensors and lethality to detect and destroy any target with a near perfect probability of hit/kill at ranges beyond an enemy's capability. It will have a non-line-of-sight capability that will dramatically increase the task force commander's battlespace and combat power. An embedded second generation integrated defensive system will make the FCS nearly immune to enemy weapons. The FCS propulsion system will provide speeds in excess of 100 kph and require significantly less fuel than the Abrams. The FCS-equipped force will require at least 50% less logistical support than the Abrams fleet.

Future Combat System

The new conception of the Future Combat Systems [plural] as a distributed battlefield system of systems [in the 20-ton class] represents a rather dramatic departure from the previous concept of the Future Combat System [singular] which was focused on a 40-ton tank.

The US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command's future land combat system vehicle is a 40-ton concept based on evolutionary tank design and technology which pushes the two-person crew down and forward into the hull with a remote turret. The crew receives information from on-board target acquisition and hit avoidance sensors. Target acquisition sensors are the gunner's primary sight, a panoramic sight and an auxiliary sight. Hit avoidance sensors are mounted in the four corners of the turret. A high pressure, 120mm gun (XM291) is mounted on the turret.

Variable height suspension presents a lower, smaller target and makes the tank more survivable. The height can be lowered to 64 inches or raised to 79 inches. At its maximum height, the tank has a 19-inch ground clearance equal to the M1 fleet. Other survivability technologies include a hull front with 40 inches of armor that uses advanced passive with integral reactive armor for large caliber kinetic energy and chemical energy protection. The hull flanks and turret front and flanks have electromagnetic armor. The armor will be supplemented by signature management, hit avoidance and active protection. Eighty smoke grenade launchers are buried under the skin of the turret armor. Increased cross country mobility could be provided by an electric drive transmission and semi-active suspension which would enable the vehicle to obtain speeds of about 45 miles per hour. Its light weight increases strategic deployability by allowing two to three vehicles per C-5 cargo plane and increasing the number of vehicles that can be transported by ship, rail or highway.

The Future Combat System (FCS) Integrated TD (2000–06) will demonstrate the maturity of the FCS candidate’s revolutionary technologies in the vehicle configuration required for operation in the Army After Next. Leap–ahead lethality in vehicles 50 percent lighter is required to employ strategic mobility throughout the AAN vision. Using the M1A2 Abrams as a baseline, it will demonstrate 50% reduced crew workload, 40% reduced GVW, 20% increase in fuel economy, and a 40% increase in cross-country speed, and leap ahead lethality. Critical issues to be addressed are the acceptance of two crew vehicle operation, leap ahead mobility, non traditional survivability (replacing ballistic protection with signature management, countermeasures, and active protection), and indefensible lethality (both direct and indirect fire).Critical issues to be addressed are the acceptance of two–crew–vehicle operation, leap–ahead mobility (60 mph cross country), nontraditional survivability (replacing ballistic protection with signature management, countermeasures, and active protection), and indefensible lethality (both direct and indirect fire). Virtual prototypes will be constructed and evaluated, and a system integration laboratory (SIL) will be implemented with laboratory hardware to validate electronics integration.

The Future Combat System will be a revolutionary system providing greater mobility while achieving an overall system weight approaching 40 tons (<50 tons desired). The FCS lethality goals include high probability of kill in extended direct fire ranges as well as long ranges (10Km+ desired) in non line-of-sight conditions. While there is a strong interest in the expected lethality and logistics benefits from an electromagnetic based armament system, the technology is continuing to overcome technical barriers and validate target defeat capability. Therefore, the FCS Armament TD will represent a less risky solution to FCS lethality goals and facilitate successful demonstration of the planned TARDEC FCS Integrated TD in the FY06 timeframe.

The gun will be a derivative of XM291 tank gun developed originally for the future Abrams upgrades in a 120mm configuration. The XM291 gun design consisted of an integral cannon, mount, and recoil mechanism that could be installed, as one integrated unit, in a combat vehicle from the front of the vehicle. Technology application to the XM291 configuration will include a composite gun tube for reduced weight and balance of the gun at the trunnion, and Electro-Thermal Ignition and pulse-forming network transitioned from the ElectroThermal-Chemical technology program being conducted by the Army Research Laboratory, providing higher velocity through controlled burning of propellant as well as very reproducible ignition cycles. The gun design will also include an integral muzzle brake to reduce recoil forces on the vehicle’s lighter weight structure, smart barrel actuator to actively control the position of the muzzle at projectile exit enhancing accuracy, and a composite gun tube thermal shroud configuration significantly reducing gun tube signature by enemy radar.

The ammunition demonstrated will incorporate novel penetrators and high performance propellant formulations for enhanced target defeat capability without reduced gun tube wear life or increase in vehicle vulnerability, and axial/radial thruster mechanisms to compensate for system errors increasing accuracy. It is expected that a 100%+ increase in armor penetration could be realized over the M829A2 at extended ranges with up to 70% increase in system accuracy (Ph) at 3km under stationary conditions over the M829A2/M1A2. The cartridge envelope will be determined from a number of 6.2/6.3 technology programs including the Target Destruct TD, Advanced KE Cartridge, and the feed of results to the Advanced Future Cannon Systems work package which will conduct the virtual prototyping studies of FCS Armament systems meeting the goals of FCS.

A compact autoloader mechanism will be required to facilitate expected vehicle configurations where the crew station is in the hull, separated from gun/ammunition compartment. The specific autoloader configuration will be defined in conjunction with the TARDEC FCS contractor vehicle concept activity and will leverage early 6.2 compact autoloader efforts that resulted in the demonstration of high density magazine storage capacities, improved fratricide protection, and weight savings. Sensor technology to detect and resolve loader anomalies under operating conditions will be incorporated

The fire control system will leverage commercially based open electronic architecture developed by TACOM-TARDEC and that which may be pursued for the Future Scout Cavalry System ATD program. Promising technologies such as linear and non-linear lead solution, improved ballistics, dynamic cant sensor, down-range wind sensor, auto-zero, direct "gearless" drive, smart barrel actuators, electronic image stabilization and modern digital servo control will be developed for the specific armament system characteristics. These fire control technologies will provide an additional 30% increase in system accuracy at 3km under stationary conditions but will provide over 500% increase in accuracy during moving conditions.

The combined effects of accuracy improvement in ammunition and fire control will provide an estimated increase in system accuracy of 100%+ at 3km under stationary conditions, and 500% under moving condition as compared to the current Abrams tank.

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