Sunday, January 25, 2009

Army Scrutinizing Future Combat Systems Program, General Says

Jan. 21, 2009 – 1:46 p.m.

The Army is in the middle of a “top to bottom” review of its weapons investments, a senior officer said Wednesday, and the focus is on a program that President Obama criticized during the campaign.

The review, which is due by the end of February, will map out a course for spending on all Army weapons, said Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, at a breakfast with defense writers. Topping the review’s agenda, he said, is a close look at the Army’s most expensive program, the Future Combat Systems, or FCS, an initiative that Pentagon analysts say could cost $200 billion.

“What we’re doing is taking a complete look at the entire FCS program from top to bottom and fitting it into the Army modernization program,” Chiarelli said. “The goal of the review is for all of us to understand where the program should go.”

The FCS program would develop and build a new generation of ground vehicles, unmanned planes, weapons, radios and computers. The first of a new kind of brigade built around these technologies would be fielded in 2015 , though certain subsets of the system will be sent to troops sooner.

Critics question whether the technologies are feasible and whether the system is suited to the kind of future conflicts in which the Army is most likely to find itself.

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