Boeing, SAIC win Future Combat Systems work

A team led by Boeing Co., Chicago, and Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, has won a $14.9 billion contract to develop and demonstrate prototypes of assault vehicles, sensors and related networking equipment for the Army's Future Combat Systems program.

The integrators plan to add many subcontractors their team.

"We want industry's finest on the FCS team," said Jim Albaugh, president and chief executive officer of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems unit.

Boeing named General Dynamics Corp., Falls Church, Va., and armored vehicle builder United Defense Industries Inc., Arlington, Va., as subcontractors. Other subcontractors will be selected as work progresses.

In March, Boeing issued 24 requests for proposals for help on systems development and demonstration work for the Future Combat Systems. The company did not disclose how much the contracts could be worth.

Boeing expects the work to create from 400 to 500 jobs by the end of 2004. The jobs, for both the integrator team and partners, would largely be in systems engineering, software development, electrical work and mechanical and structural engineering.

The work is expected to run from May 2003 through 2010 and will be performed in Houston; Huntsville, Ala.; Mesa, Ariz.; Philadelphia; Puget Sound, Wash.; southern California; and Washington.

The Future Combat Systems is an Army program to develop 18 manned and unmanned ground and aerial vehicles and sensors, along with a network to connect them together and to other military systems. The vehicles eventually will replace the Army's fleet of tanks and assault vehicles, such as the Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles.

The Army is expecting the new vehicles to be lighter and smaller, allowing them to fit in a C-130-sized plane and be flown anywhere in the world with short notice.

The FCS network itself will facilitate greater situational awareness, in which field units will get data from the sensors and vehicles.

"The center of this is the network that's going to be developed," said Lt. Gen. John Caldwell, military deputy to Claude Bolton, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology. Bolton was speaking at a May 19 briefing to discuss the program's development phase.

FCS will complement other platforms the Army is developing. In February, the Army issued a request for proposals to begin work on a family of systems and modernized equipment and weaponry for soldiers, said Maj. Gen. Joseph Yakovac, program executive officer for Ground Combat and Support Systems.

That $26 billion RFP - a total of 23 procurements - covers manned and unmanned vehicles, sensors and common software packages. All 23 contracts are set for award by October, Yakovac said.

According to the Army, FCS is a test bed for a new acquisition model for large platforms, called spiral development, which allows contractors to use emerging technologies for the platform as the technologies are developed.

Lt. Gen. John Riggs, director of the Objective Force Task Force, said at the briefing that FCS is not only the direction the Army is headed, but it is also where the entire Defense Department is headed.

"The lesson learned through the recent conflict has been that jointness is absolutely essential," Riggs said.

About the Authors

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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