Home Contact Us
Search :

Defence - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2761, 23 December 2008
The Future Combat System
Sanjay Kumar
Research Assistant
United Services Institution

The US President-elect Barrack Obama's has promised not only the scrutiny of the national defense strategy but also of some of the leading defense acquisition programmes of the previous regime - programmes that promised to shape the future direction as well the deployment capabilities of the US military over the next two to three decades.

Barrack Obama promised to 'go through the federal (defense) budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work'. Constrained by a depleting economy, Obama promised to reduce the U.S. defense budget - the largest in the world - by "tens of billions of dollars". Among the programmes which are most likely to be affected are: National Missile Defense, space-based weapons, reduction in number of nuclear weapons and the most importantly, the Future Combat System (FCS) which is currently the umbrella for every current modernization program of the US Army.

Barrack Obama contends that proven weapon systems are good enough for the US Army's present requirements and as such, it would be unwise to look at the battle spectrum two to three decades from now. The President-elect, however, has promised to provide his troops "with the first-rate equipment, armor, training and incentives they deserve". As the presidency unfolds we are likely to witness in the coming months an interesting debate between the Department of Defense and the State Department over army's requirement for high-tech weapon systems.

The pre-election statement of Barrack Obama to slow down the development of the FCS is unnerving for the U.S. army which is already overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of its fighting capabilities. The scale of war causalities in these two countries - exceptionally high for a military considered to be the best in the world in terms of technology - has put additional onus on the Army to continue to look for technologies which will minimize physical risks to its soldiers in the battlefield while maximizing its fighting capabilities.

The FCS, conceived almost a decade ago, is a US$160 billion plus project that seeks to address the Army's requirements to fight medium to high intensity protracted conflicts with a considerably low burden of logistics. The FCS, touted often as a network of 'system of systems' presently visualizes 14 manned and unmanned systems tied together by an extensive communications and information network.

The FCS intends to replace current systems such as the M-1 Abrams tanks and the M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles by combat sensors and robots in the battlefield arena, integrated on a common grid with systems existing presently, in development, and those that will be developed in the future. The FCS is believed to have reached a level where at least some of the prototypes are on the verge of being fielded to units.

Ever since its conception in October 1999 by the then Joint Chiefs of Staff, the FCS has remained controversial for its high price tag. In 2007, restructuring due to financial constraints, downsized the 18+1+1 FCS to the present 14 systems, resulting in the delay of its implementation by at least five years. The first FCS equipped Brigade Combat Team not likely to roll out before 2015 and thereafter one FCS BCT rolling out every year, as per the existing time-frame, it will not be before 2030 that the FCS is deployed in the entire spectrum of future battlefield.

The reduction in the military budget as intended by the new President will not only further delay the implementation of the FCS but also result in further scaling down its range. The Army, on its part, wants the system to proceed at an accelerated rate with the first FCS-equipped brigade combat team (BCT) to be deployed by 2012 or 2013 instead of 2015 as currently planned. In fact, what makes the FCS a high-risk venture is because of the advanced technologies involved as well as the challenge of fusing all of the FCS subsystems together. There is also the question of FCS compatibility with a joint operations structure.

The FCS, promising to alter the future battlefield in the most fundamental ways, remains one of the most closely watched military technology transformation drives in the world today. In so far as the relevance of an FCS in the Indian context is concerned, India neither has the resources to emulate it in its entirety, nor is there any chance of Indian troops fighting protracted conflicts overseas in any foreseeable future.

The internal security situation of India, however, demands developments of robotic ground and air vehicles to carry out surveillance, reconnaissance and precision attack missions. The long stretch of India's border - inhospitable and impassable at several places - requires constant vigil, particularly in view of the frequent terrorist attacks taking place across India. Deployment of semi-automated to automated systems along the border, including the coastline to keep surveillance and reconnaissance would go a long way in bolstering security. The excessive deployment of army personnel in internal security and the ever increasing asymmetric threats, use of booby traps and mines by insurgents and difficulty in gathering human intelligence, mandate requirement for speeding up research in technologies which can save precious lives.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Fighting Terror: Use of Non-lethal Weapons

Obama’s Af-Pak Strategy: Why It Will Not Work

China’s Naval Strategy: Implications for India

The West and 26/11: A ‘Contain India’ Policy?

Should India Join NATO to Combat Terrorism?

Dealing with Pakistan: The Nuclear Dimension

Asymmetric Capabilities of China's Military

China: A Rising Threat in Space

China's Growing Defence Budget: Cause for Alarm

Kashmir: India and Pakistan back to Incrementalism

War on Terror and Revival of Drug Trade in Afghanistan

Nepal: Maoists hold State and People to Ransom

Dominance of China in the post-MFA World Raises Concern

Managing Ethnic Conflict: Lessons from the Bodo Experience

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com