Three firms join Future Combat team

Northrop Grumman Corp., United Defense LP Ground Systems Division and McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co. will join the group led by Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corp. to develop the Army's Future Combat System.

Now, 21 companies will work with Boeing and SAIC on the FCS program, which seeks to link 19 systems that connect soldiers with air and ground platforms and sensors. The Army plans to spend about $22 billion for the program from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2009, and several billion more for non-FCS programs required to create the "system of systems."

Boeing and SAIC announced the final three companies yesterday. One of the three, McDonnell Douglas, is a Boeing subsidiary.

"From the beginning of our involvement with FCS, we aimed at assembling an industry team composed of the best in the business," said Dennis Muilenburg, vice president and FCS program manager for Boeing, in a statement.

In May, the Defense Acquisition Board approved the FCS program's entrance into the System Development and Demonstration phase. The SDD contract is worth $14.9 billion.

A General Accounting Office report issued in mid-August recommended extending FCS development and demonstration from three years to five, forcing the Army to abandon its goal of having the basic technology in place and working by 2010.

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