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Author Topic: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution  (Read 43005 times)

Offline yasotay

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2007, 04:39:01 pm »
I certainly can agree on the bit about the politicians.   The Crusader, like the Comanche, kept growing and was so heavy only the bridges in the Western World would have supported it.  While I can agree with the antiquity of the M109 Paladin, it has to a certain extent found a new lease on life with less than major warfare and the advent of the Excalibur round.  To be sure it has seen better days and everyone else has equipment with much better reach.  The FCS canon system is actually doing rather well.  Its biggest problem is that it can shoot faster than you can keep it in supply.

One of the reasons that the FCS came around is that it did not appear that the United States would find itself facing a massed mechanized force, or at least a competent one in the coming years.  It was recognized that all of its ground force equipment was built for the Gotterdamurung in West Germany.  While very good kit for that battle, when the American planners started looking at other places that might need consideration they found that those systems were not as well suited.  It does you no good to take M1A1 to a country where not a single bridge will support its weight under any circumstances.  Also the only way to get these heavy forces to a place is by ship.  Not the fastest way to get there, especially if it is a land locked country (Afghanistan).  Otherwise you have to put one single tank on a C-5 sized aircraft, which is exceedingly inefficient for force delivery.  With FCS you are to have a system, that you can put two of them per C-17 without having to get wartime waivers and you can get it into other than international airports.  Ultimately the United States is looking to have organizations and equipment that are not reliant on airports and seaports for access.  Give them a football pitch and a beach and they can deliver mechanized forces, supported by air and naval forces.  We shall see...

Cynicism- these days is analogous to being pragmatic.

Offline Ranger6

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2007, 03:21:31 pm »
 :o

Guys,

I am shocked! Truly shocked to hear you say that "cynicism is the new realism." Of course, we all know its true -- but it's still shocking! ;)

No really. I have to admit, its nice to know I'm not the only maniac who hasn't yet been infected by the folly fungus, aka "transformation." Obviously, the only thing that can replace an MBT and survive on the modern battlefield is another MBT. Almost needless to say, that means trading speed and transportability for firepower and survivability (after all, Americans are skittish about casualties!).

Now to show my full hand. I think the FCS is lunacy, but does contain the seedling of a good idea:

First, it looks at the problem of designing the new generation of AFVs from a weapons system approach, rather than from the perspective of each discrete vehicle.

Second, I think it's about time the Army intrgrated moratrs and artillery into a total combat package. The Israelis have been deploying task specific packages -- three tanks, four APCs and a mortar or SPG -- on an as needed basis. For all the supposed flexibility of the IBCT, it still relies on brigaded battalions from different units that have never trained together on MISSION SPECIFIC maneuvers.

Third, some of the ideas -- externally mounted weapons, for example -- make a lot of sense. The M-1 is a humongous beast and is very vulnerable to top attack. Sure, we can hope to have complete mastery of the air -- as we did in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan. But, what if we don't? What if a few attack helicopters manage to get through our air supertiority screen (as happened to the Israelis in Lebanon in 1982) and loose a barrage of ATGWs before we even realize they are there?

Finally, I r3ealize we are in the same situation now as we (and the British) were before and during WWII. We have a big empire to police, falling defense budgets, long distances to carry heavy weapons, and falling manpower levels. Its enticing to think that Technology can sweep away all those problems. But, my problem is that DoD has no fall back plan in case of any other contingencies. Thus, we seem to be fated to replay either North Africa in 1942 (British light and Cruiser tanks attacking like cavalry to get close enough to fire back at the German Pz4s) or Normandy in 1944 (trying to kill Panthers with the medium velocity 75MM gun on the Sherman). I'd hate to be the poor sod in a "Sheriden 2" -- a really apt analogy.

Best,

Abraham

Offline Antonio

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2007, 12:56:22 am »
Great post Ranger6!

Quote
Finally, I realize we are in the same situation now as we (and the British) were before and during WWII. We have a big empire to police, falling defense budgets, long distances to carry heavy weapons, and falling manpower levels. Its enticing to think that Technology can sweep away all those problems

Just a couple of comments because I don't want to go off-topic:

Not only the USA or Great Britain have problems to handle their empires, also Spain or Rome experienced that before. It is natural that an entity grows to an inflexion point when it starts to collapse because its size make its unefficient.
When your offensive budget turns into defense budget you reach the inflexion and Empire stability = 1/Defensive budget

 Cheers:)
Antonio

Offline yasotay

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2007, 12:52:58 pm »
It would appear from recent events in Lebanon and Iraq, that heavily protected MBT are susceptible to infantry borne weapons like RPG 29, Koronet ATGM and even .50cal sniper rifle.  That said I am not one who espouses the “Armor has met its Agincourt” found in some communities. Ironic really, that it was the other side of that same conflicted area where in 1974 the same inaccurate allusion was formed.

Having done some work with FCS for a few years now, I can tell you that most of those working it have a very keen respect for the necessity of “conventional armor”.  In fact the hardest part of the program has been getting the heavy community working FCS to use the capability of an integrated system of combat vehicles and soldiers to support their maneuver.  Mostly they want to drive into the fight in their chariot, impervious to the environment and smite the enemy.  The idea of mounted 'supporting' dismounted and using other peoples weapons to defeat the threat, is not very enticing to them.

Of note, one of the drivers for FCS was the realization that had Iraq had the desire to press their initial advantage in Gulf War 1, the Airborne Division would have been not much more than a “Speed Bump”.  Regardless of the reality, it was a very cold stone in the stomach of politician and senior officer alike. The US had two types of forces Light (airborne, air assault) and heavy (armor and mechanized).  The Stryker Brigades are the first, interim, capability to add a middle weight force.  FCS is not a panacea of war, although to get funding these days you have to say that, but an attempt to get as much firepower into a mobile rapidly deployable force as possible.

At the risk of sailing off topic with pometablava, another key indicator of “inflexion” comes when the society itself begins to concern itself with the individual vice the society as a whole.  President John F. Kennedy’s words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” was likely the high water mark of US expansion.

Offline vajt

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #19 on: July 25, 2007, 01:25:26 pm »
Actually what would have been more effective and realistic is that the FCS should be what the Stryker is currently used for. Something for the ligh/medium mobile forces. They should have stayed with the wheeled design and continue development on the next gen Abrams as the true MBT. When you hear about the new tanks in development in Russia and China (and the countries that can easily purchase them) I doubt the 120mm FCS will do well on a one-to-one matchup.

-----JT-----
« Last Edit: July 25, 2007, 01:30:44 pm by vajt »

Offline yasotay

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #20 on: July 25, 2007, 02:43:48 pm »
As implausible as it might seem, the Stryker is an interim system that is to be replaced by FCS; an attempt to get a medium weight force without waiting for the technology.  There are some who would argue that there is a good chance that the FCS will become systems that are added to the Stryker family; although politically I doubt that will be the final decision.

I also doubt that the heavy armor business is gone in the United States.  I think that it is on the back shelf while the medium force is being developed.  Politically, after the recent Israeli experience there may be some folks wanting to see if there are ways to make the heavy armor more than a heavy target.  I have seen briefs of heavy armor that looks more like a land battleship, with the entire ‘anti-this-that-and-the-other-thing’ technology festoon about the hull and turret.

Offline Ranger6

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2007, 06:56:38 pm »
"I have seen briefs of heavy armor that looks more like a land battleship, with the entire ‘anti-this-that-and-the-other-thing’ technology festoon about the hull and turret.

Offline Ranger6

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2007, 07:07:11 pm »
Sorry guys, I was trying to insert a quote and hit the wrong button.

Look, in essence, the problem is systemic: Building a land battleship will be no better than building an FCS as a replacement for the M-1. Therein is the rub, however. The US Army and DoD insist on doing things backwards -- instead of looking at doctrine first and then tailoring the hardware to what we really need, they first look at the hardware available, look for the greatest number of technological leaps forward (to reduce manpower needs and hence casualties), and only then define a doctrine around what they have.

I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but, I have an article on a very related topic -- the T-92 light tank project -- in "AFV News" for January 2007 and another one on the way in "Strategy and Tactics" (hopefully it will appear any day now . . . )on the first attempts to leap ahead technologically as a way of replacing the MBT (which in case was "obsolete" because of Nuclear Weapons!). I'm also writing up a more scholarly (e.g., with footnotes and references) on the same subject for "Armor Magazine."

This is serious stuff -- not only are we dealing with the overall strategic situation of our country, but we are potentially risking the lives of the very troops we hope to save!

I'm not involved in actual programs (no security clearence, I'm an academic) but I do read. And I heartily recommend Thomas Adams "The Army After Next," a thorough going critique of the entire "Transformation" concept, which in many ways is now DoD's religion.

Abraham

Offline sferrin

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #23 on: July 26, 2007, 08:24:21 pm »
I'm not involved in actual programs (no security clearence, I'm an academic) but I do read. And I heartily recommend Thomas Adams "The Army After Next," a thorough going critique of the entire "Transformation" concept, which in many ways is now DoD's religion.

Abraham

There appear to be signs that "tranformational" may have ruin it's course with the exit of MacNama. . I'm sorry, Rumsfeld.  People are starting to realize that US soldiers aren't Superman and Maguiver rolled into one and can't win wars with a laptop and a mean face.  Oakleys don't kill people, guns do.  Unfortunately sanity is just beginning to prevail as it's being shown the exit.  Come 2008 god help us all.  (Political rant off.)
« Last Edit: July 27, 2007, 08:08:08 am by sferrin »
"DARPA Hard"  It ain't what it use to be.

Offline yasotay

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2007, 07:50:47 am »
I have seen first hand the myopia at Ft. Knox.  "Though shall find no other than the M1".  So I think that there is room for misgiving on all fronts.  I do not know if you have seen any of the Army's charts for force structure, but it does not get rid of the heavy force.  However when you ask the Armor community how they plan to do their job if there is no way to get to a port (how many M1A1 and Bradley are in Afghanistan), or to the country in question, you either get stares or shrugs with "Not my problem."  I can tell you that last years Lebanon mis-adventure has run a cold chill through the heavy community.  Having started life as a tanker and then spent most of my career hunting them from better than 4 kilometers, if you run into an enemy who knows what they are doing, a tank is just as good a place to kill three or four soldiers as a truck.  In fairness the FCS will be festoon with kit as well. Ultimately, the FCS effort may prove to have been worthwhile for how it provides improvements in battle command and situational awareness systems to the entire force, even if the vehicles are not fielded.

The irony of this whole mess is that everyone wants to think that FCS is going to replace M1/M2, and that is just not the case.  IT will reduce the number of brigades with heavy armor, but there will be more heavy brigades than you might think.  From my perspective FCS is an attempt to provide more than just light infantry for anything other than major conflict, so it does help save lives because I do not want my children to be a "Speed Bump", or my country to be embarrassed because my land force cannot get to the fight because an allied country elects not to stand by its treaty obligations.

This could almost be a debate on religion in the United States Army.  As I tell my Status Quo friends, the Brown Bess was a brilliant weapon, and the horse cavalry was crucial for 2000 years or better.  I can remember the same sort of arguments when the Army started the AH-64 Apache program to replace the AH-1 Cobra; horribly expensive and unproven technology replacing a known and respected system.  I will end with "We agree to disagree.  Time will prove out who is right."

Offline sferrin

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2007, 08:07:32 am »
I'm not claiming heavy armor is the be all and end all just that there are times when nothing else will do.  I agree that there need to be some deadly lightweight vehicles but more as replacements for the various HUMVEE mutants.   LOSAT (being replaced with CKEM) will add significant power to the first guys on the ground.  (Unfortunately it too is/was a HUMVEE mutant)
"DARPA Hard"  It ain't what it use to be.

Offline TheRightHand

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #26 on: July 30, 2007, 04:59:55 am »
Unless they develop some radical armor, either using nano-materials and/or new electric armor and combine it with active protection, there is no way a light tank will match the protection capability of a current M-1.

From what I hear, the new Russian T-95 tank will be a modular design with an unmanned turret. It will still weigh around 40 tons but the crew compartment will incorporate extra protection with new materials, new generation reactive and active armors will also be used, it will have a reduced silhoutte and weight due to the smaller turret and new  stealth features. Now this to me sounds like a true next generation MBT.

-----JT-----
Actually the U.S. is very fortunate that Russia didn't give Iraq ERA, DU Rounds and Nightvision/Thremal Imaging Equipment because the good ol M1 wouldn't last to long, read why U.S. Army changed from "M829 APFSDS" to "M829A2 and now M829A3"
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontakt-5
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_model
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-72
« Last Edit: July 30, 2007, 05:02:33 am by TheRightHand »

Offline Ranger6

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #27 on: July 30, 2007, 07:49:13 pm »
 ::)

Guys,

This thread is really a big help! I've been doing a lot of research on the previous generation of FCS (dating back to the 1950s) and I'm getting a sense of "Deja Vu all over again" (to quote the inimitable Yogi Berra).

1. Yes, it is true that the M-1 is a large heavy combat machine. HOWEVER, the reason there aren't any in Afghanistan is that they aren't needed to fight the kind of war that needsa to be fought there. Believe me, if anyone thought that an M-1 would help, they'd find a way to get some there. It's not a question of "not my problem." It is a question of matching resources to the fight we need -- in fact, the FCS would be of little use in Afghanistan, where the best forces are light infantry and special ops.

2. That said, the official Army line is that the FCS WILL INDEED replace the M-1 Abrams as our MBT "lite." If you don't believe me, read the editorial by MG Robert Williams (CO of The Army's Armor Center, the "thinking" part of ARCOM) in the current issue of Armor Magazine. He's talking about creating a vehicle that can destroy enemy armor at a range of 8KM (about 5 miles)! Obviously, such a vehicle can carry less armor since in a perfect world (the current fantasy land that DoD and ARCOM seem to live in) no enemy will be able to fire back at such a range. The only problem is the our rules of engagement won't allow our troops to fire at 8KM, because even with the best intelligence, we may mistake a civilian vehicle for an MBT. The result? Although the M-1 can engage at similar ranges, most Tank combat in Iraq has been at ranges of 2KM (just over a mile) OR LESS. In other words, we're still fighting at WWII tank gunnery ranges!

As usual (see my letter to the editors in the same issue of Armor) the problem comes from looking for a technological leap foreward, developing the systems, and then forcing doctrine to fit to the technology. A far better way to do things would be an gradual evolutionary process of fitting available technology to our doictrine and then matching BOTH to the actual needs at hand plus our probable near future needs.

It pains me to note that much of the Army's success in the last 60 years owes more to the bravery and skill of our troops than to the adequacy of our equipment.

Abraham

PS When/if I publish the article version of these posts (yeah right!) I will acknowledge your kindly thoughts!

Offline yasotay

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2007, 05:29:00 am »
Well Abraham, We agree to disagree.   ;D

1.  The "Not my Problem" is exactly the problem. You are right that it is a resource issue.  M1 is a thirsty tank with a huge logistics tail.  Just the sort of MSR hogging target the Tailban and insurgents love to target.  You ought to talk with the folks at the Army Logistics Center about the M-1 and fuel (and the fuel to get the fuel to them).  The only thing worse is Aviation.  I seem to see a lot of NATO allies driving around in medium weight vehicles.  If they wanted it they would indeed have it, however all of the other things (logisiticians, engineers, etc.) that would have to go in country to support heavy forces would be the Army's problem.

2.  The idea of the ranged fire is to provide support to a larger area.  You are correct that the rules of engagement will make long range shots less likely, however part of that is sensor fidelity.  The real benefit of the extended range is that the dismounted force can get fires faster.

3.  Evolution and revolution are relative.  When President Regan started the M-1 and AH-64 program, as an M-60A3 driver I thought the M1 a huge mistake (turbine engine and a thermal sight worse than the one I had).  Big Mistake.  Then as an AH-1 Cobra driver I saw this exceedingly expensive AH-64 come along (big, very expensive, flying using thermal imaging).  Big mistake I thought.  So I have come to the conclusion that "change is hard".  Then it should be,  since they are dealing with peoples lives.

Offline vajt

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Re: FCS - Future Combat Systems - Evolution
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2007, 11:31:35 am »
Actually the U.S. is very fortunate that Russia didn't give Iraq ERA, DU Rounds and Nightvision/Thremal Imaging Equipment because the good ol M1 wouldn't last to long, read why U.S. Army changed from "M829 APFSDS" to "M829A2 and now M829A3"
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kontakt-5
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_model
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-72
[/quote]

Damn...I just read about the Kontakt-5 and now they have a newer one, the Kaktus? Wouldn't want to mess with that new ERA...I guess it would be 4th generation ERA.

-----JT-----