Thursday, July 2, 2009


Inside the Army - 7/6/2009

Negotiating first production contract with Boeing


Future Combat Systems contractor Boeing will serve as the prime for only the first three brigades’ worth of FCS “spin-out” equipment, with the remaining sets to be subject to competition, according to senior Army officials.

While the Army works to terminate its contract with Boeing for the FCS manned ground vehicle program, the service is also redefining the company’s role in its future modernization efforts.

“Part of what we’re working together with Boeing right now is their role in relation with us as we restructure this program,” Lt. Gen. Ross Thompson, military deputy to the Army acquisition executive, told reporters at a July 1 Pentagon briefing.

Boeing will remain the prime contractor for the FCS network development and for the first three brigade sets of spin-out capabilities, he said. The Army intends to field the first spin-out capability sets to seven infantry brigade combat teams.

“The next four brigades would be competitively awarded,” said Thompson.

Spin-out capabilities will include the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System, Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, the Class One Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, Ground Soldier Ensemble, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle and the Network Integration Kits.

“We will contract for those [first] systems through Boeing, but we will negotiate with Boeing what their relationship is beyond those first three spin-outs,” he added. Boeing has not yet signed a production contract for those first three equipment sets, but is currently negotiating one with the Army, service spokesman Paul Mehney told Inside the Army in a separate interview. The contract is intended to buy the first spin-out set and include an option to buy two more, he said. The Army has already awarded Boeing an $18.7 million contract for long lead items for the first set (ITA, June 1, p13).

Thompson told reporters last week that the Army’s negotiations with Boeing began before the Pentagon’s FCS acquisition decision memorandum was issued June 23. This allowed the Army to issue a stop-work order on the ground vehicles the day after the ADM was issued, he added.

“We had already prepared the battlefield, if you will, with Boeing,” he said. Boeing is now negotiating the termination of contracts with its subcontractors on the manned ground vehicles, according to Thompson.

The Army has also stopped work on the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, one of the eight FCS MGVs, which is in its own acquisition category due to a congressional mandate.

“Because NLOS-C is so tied to the manned ground vehicle program, de facto, when you stop work on the manned ground vehicles, you have to stop work on the NLOS-C because it’s part and parcel of the manned ground vehicle program,” said Thompson.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a longtime supporter of the NLOS-C, has frequently expressed his desire to retain the program or start a new cannon modernization program.

To help decide what’s next for NLOS-C, Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s acquisition executive, has sent letters to senior members of Congress on both the defense authorization and appropriations committees, according to Thompson.

“We need to work with the Congress to adjust the current law, because the current law says, ‘You’ve got to do the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon.’ And so that’s the discussion that OSD is going to have to lead with the Congress,” he added.

-- Kate Brannen