• The Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program is a family of ground combat vehicles and unmanned reconnaissance aircraft tied together by a high-capacity wireless network. It is the centerpiece of Army modernization efforts, consuming about four percent of the service’s budget over the next two decades.
• The need for a network-enabled family of combat systems is driven by the emergence of new threats and the increasing sophistication of more traditional threats. The new threats include unconventional challenges such as terrorists and insurgents, while the traditional threats mainly involve conventional forces that have become more potent due to the growing availability of precision munitions, advanced sensors, digital communications and weapons of mass destruction.
• Future Combat Systems was conceived to bolster Army combat capabilities across the full spectrum of potential military challenges. Using new technologies, embedded training and agile tactics, FCS enables soldiers to stay connected in combat, detect and destroy threats faster, protect themselves more effectively, and project power wherever it is needed on short notice.
• The core elements of FCS are 14 different combat systems united by a shared network, organization and concept of operations. Because they are linked together via a resilient and versatile network, soldiers equipped with FCS capabilities will enjoy unprecedented situational awareness and operational flexibility, permitting them to achieve combat objectives more efficiently while risking as few lives as possible.
• Future Combat Systems is the essential next step beyond resetting existing equipment so that soldiers can be prepared for the fights of the future. If it is not implemented as planned, more soldiers will die due to lack of adequate awareness, agility and protection, while the Army will have to spend a similar amount of money on less effective responses to the emerging threat.
This report was written by Dr. Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute staff as part of the Institute’s continuing effort to analyze military technology requirements and acquisition practices.
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