Contractors vie for Future Combat

The Army this week announced the first four contractors to participate in

the Future Combat Systems program, an effort to equip future soldiers with

vehicles loaded with surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting systems.

The Future Combat System family of vehicles is widely viewed as a replacement

for the Army's Abrams tank, but likely will replace a number of other vehicles

as well. The new vehicles are considered integral to the Army's plans to

become a lighter, more lethal and more mobile force.

The system will weigh about 20 tons, in contrast to the heavily armored

60-ton Abrams tank, and it will require a full suite of information technologies

to allow it to locate and hit enemy targets while remaining undetected.

"If you get the surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition

right, you don't have to worry about how much frontal armor you have," said

retired Army Gen. Paul Gormon, speaking at the National Defense Industrial

Association science and technology symposium held May 9-11 at Johns Hopkins

University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

The four contractors vying to build the IT-laden vehicle are Boeing

Co.'s Phantom Works; Science Applications International Corp.; the Team

Focus Vision Consortium, which includes Raytheon Co.; and Team Gladiator,

which includes TRW Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. among others.

The Future Combat Systems demonstration program is a collaborative effort

between the Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with

the former paying $509 million and the latter $406 million.

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