The U.S. Army tends to be a poor cousin among Defense Department kin when it comes to high-tech systems; the big-bucks, high-profile technology programs tend to accrue to the Navy and the Air Force. It's also looking to take advantage of developments in areas from robotics to high-speed networks.
Enter the Future Combat Systems program, the Army's largest modernization initiative. Now about four years old, the program envisions a family of high-tech gear including sensors, aerial drones, and manned and unmanned ground vehicles, all fully networked and linked to individual soldiers. Pictured here in a recent training exercise is the program's Class I unmanned aerial vehicle; the UAV is intended to help dismounted soldiers with reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition.
While the timeline for developing the FCS systems extends well into the next decade, the Army hopes to get some components deployed as early as fiscal year 2008, which starts in October. And therein lies a very important rub.
Credit: U.S. Army