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Army Future Combat price tag rising

Advanced tech program in trouble, as CBO estimates it would consume most of the Army's budget for wheels and gear.
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Written by ZDNet Editors, Contributors on

The Army's exciting new Future Combat Systems project - which would put video cameras on soldiers' helmets and display wirelessly transmitted data to their goggles - is in big trouble, GovExec.com reports.

The Congressional Budget Office figure the program could eat up as much as half of the Army's procurement accounts, leaving scarce dollars to buy other needed gear.

"Dedicating such a large proportion of the service's procurement funding to the FCS program would leave little money for purchasing other weapons systems (such as helicopters) or needed support equipment (such as generators and ammunition)," CBO said in a report released last week.

And the FCS price tag is not even stabilized yet. It could grow another 60 percent, mostly because it started development before it was ready.

"The FCS program may continue to experience cost growths at historical rates," CBO said. "If it does, the average annual funding needed for the program, CBO estimates, may climb from the $8 billion to $10 billion projected most recently by the Army to between $13 billion and $16 billion."

Meanwhile, the Army has to put tires on the ground and the current ground combat fleet is aging. "Although the FCS vehicles could ultimately replace most of the armored vehicles that now equip the Army's combat brigades, the average age of those vehicles before they were retired would significantly exceed the Army's guidelines."

Indeed, by 2018, when the Army plans to buy 500 FCS vehicles a year, the average age of its other vehicles would be 16 years, requiring the service to invest heavily in upgrading its so-called legacy fleet, CBO concluded.

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