Defense Acquisitions: The Army's Future Combat Systems' Features, Risks, and Alternatives
To become a more responsive and dominant combat force, the U.S. Army is changing its strategy from bigger and stronger weapons to faster and more agile ones. The Future Combat Systems (FCS)--which the Army calls the "greatest technology and integration challenge ever undertaken"--is expected to meet the Army's transformational objectives. Forming FCS' backbone is an information network that links 18 systems. Not only is FCS to play a pivotal role in the Army's military operations, FCS and its future iterations are expected to eventually replace all Army forces. For FCS' first developmental increment, the Army has set aside a 5 1/2-year timetable from program start (May 2003) until the initial production decision (November 2008). GAO was asked to testify about FCS' key features, whether the program carries any risks, and, if so, whether there are alternatives for developing FCS capabilities with fewer risks.