September 30, 2006 The world got its first look at the Future Combat Systems (FCS) Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) Cannon Firing Platform last week. The NLOS Cannon is the lead Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV) of the U.S. Army's foremost modernization program - an integrated family of air systems and both manned and unmanned ground systems connected by a robust network. The 155-mm Firing Platform is the first step toward development of NLOS Cannon prototypes scheduled to begin testing in 2008. The NLOS Cannon Firing Platform features a 38-caliber length, fully automated 155-mm howitzer, and will soon be shipped to Army test facilities, where it will begin qualification of its ultra-lightweight cannon and breech. The Firing Platform will undergo testing through 2008. Test data from these tests will support obtaining a safety release, which will allow soldiers to begin testing the NLOS Cannon prototypes.
Together with the Army and LSI, BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems are developing the NLOS-C as the first vehicle in the FCS program's fleet of eight variants of manned ground vehicles. These vehicles will maximize the use of common chassis, parts and sub-systems. They will feature a two-person crew station, lightweight band track, and a hybrid-electric propulsion system that maximizes power and fuel efficiency. Overall, FCS manned ground vehicles will require 10-30% less fuel and far fewer mechanics than current manned ground vehicles.
The eight MGV variants, including the NLOS-C, are among the 18 networked systems that together will constitute FCS, the U.S. Army's foremost modernization program. Currently in the System Development and Demonstration phase, FCS is being accelerated to meet near-term needs of the current force while equipping future warfighters with advanced capabilities to meet emerging threats. FCS will improve the strategic deployability and operational maneuver capability of ground combat formations without sacrificing lethality or survivability.
"Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have proved the critical importance of cannon artillery in defeating both conventional and insurgent-type threats," said Jim Unterseher, BAE Systems director of Army Programs. The NLOS Cannon was developed by BAE Systems for the Boeing/Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) led FCS Program.
"The push-button firepower of the NLOS Cannon will give soldiers an even more lethal, flexible and responsive fire support option for ensuring mission success in a range of combat scenarios." The Firing Platform's howitzer is integrated with a fully automated ammunition handling system. The platform, made of a combination of high-strength steel and aluminum, incorporates a cannon assembly that is 1,200 pounds lighter than the M777 cannon used on the NLOS Cannon Concept Technology Demonstrator previously developed and tested by BAE Systems. The cannon assembly is integrated onto a lightweight surrogate chassis that provides performance similar to the full prototype vehicle chassis. The NLOS Cannon prototypes will incorporate lightweight band track, a two person crew station and a hybrid-electric propulsion system that maximizes power and fuel efficiency. Much of the advanced technology being developed for the NLOS Cannon is being incorporated into the design and development of other vehicles in the MGV family, such as the NLOS Mortar. The NLOS Mortar is being designed by BAE Systems to have an estimated 80 percent commonality with the NLOS Cannon chassis and mission equipment to reduce maintenance and logistics. A NLOS Mortar Firing Platform is expected to be delivered for testing and qualification in spring 2007.