Army speeds up FCS robotic testing

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has speeded up its test schedules for two Future Combat Systems robotic prototypes.

Boeing and its partner Science Applications International Corp., the Lead Systems Integrator for the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems program, said in a statement Thursday that the Army had "accelerated test schedules for two FCS robotic prototypes based on current readiness levels and positive feedback from soldiers who are using early versions of the systems in Iraq and Afghanistan."


"Beginning this month, 25 FCS Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle -- SUGV -- units developed jointly with iRobot Corporation and 11 Class I -- Block 0 -- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles -- UAVs -- developed jointly with Honeywell will be delivered in increments to Army Evaluation Task Force soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas," Boeing and SAIC said.

"The soldiers will train with the equipment before conducting user testing in the summer. Deliveries will occur between January and June 2008 with testing expected to conclude in September. Based on soldier feedback, a recommendation will be made to senior Army leadership whether to field the platforms or continue with system development under the core FCS program," the companies said.


"The acceleration of the SUGV and Class I (Block 0) UAV prototypes and testing underscores the Army's commitment to enhancing soldier survivability and mission effectiveness by getting the capabilities into their hands as soon as possible," said Dennis Muilenburg, vice president-general manager, Boeing Combat Systems, and FCS program manager.

"The 30-pound SUGV is a small, lightweight, soldier-portable unmanned ground vehicle that is capable of conducting military operations in high-risk environments, including urban terrain, tunnels, sewers and caves, without exposing soldiers directly to potential hazards," the statement said.

"The Class I -- Block 0 -- UAV, a platoon-level asset and the smaller of the two FCS unmanned vehicle classes, will provide dismounted soldiers with unprecedented reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capabilities on the battlefield. The Class I UAV can operate in complex urban and jungle terrains with vertical takeoff, hover and landing capability, and can be operated autonomously or controlled by dismounted soldiers," the companies said.

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