Boeing Frontiers
June 2003
Volume 02, Issue 02
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
Cover Story


Program success demonstrates strengths of Boeing


It's now officially the premier program of Boeing's network-centric future. In just a few short years, it will revoluntionize the way the U.S. Army fights and wins wars—with a new, more rapidly deployable, highly effective fighting force for the 21st century.

FCS at a glance

Future Combat Systems is a networked "family of systems" designed to use advanced technologies to integrate manned and unmanned ground and air platforms and sensors. It will include 18 individual systems, the network, and the soldier on point to create a highly agile, versatile, survivable, supportable and lethal force. FCS will, over time, replace the current fleet of "heavy" vehicles—the Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles—with new manned and unmanned ground vehicles and aerial vehicles. The new manned ground vehicles will be both lighter and smaller and are designed to fit into a C-130–like plane. That allows the military to fly them to a conflict anywhere in the world in 96 hours.

Future Combat Systems represents the first venture into a new Integrated Battlespace market for Boeing. It's also a new paradigm for its U.S. Army and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency customers who are now the leading edge of U.S. Department of Defense network-centric transformation. The DoD has just given the green light for the program to enter into the systems development and demonstration phase that is projected to be worth $14.92 billion.

Achieving this milestone means it's time for Phantom Works—which initially pursued and won the program in May 2000 and executed it thereafter—to transition FCS to Integrated Defense Systems. This transition represents not only a significant new business opportunity for IDS but also a great success for Phantom Works and a clear demonstration of its important role in capturing new programs for the company.

Dave Swain, Boeing executive vice president, said the FCS success shows the strength of how Boeing is organized. The business units are focusing on executing their current programs, while Phantom Works pursues future opportunities, he said, even when they don't appear to fit neatly into current business unit focus areas.

"Remember that FCS was unfamiliar territory to Boeing at the time because it was designed for the ground army, an area in which we had only limited experience," Swain said. "Nevertheless, in Phantom Works we were looking beyond today's focus areas and asking if we had the people, tools, technology and processes to solve problems for the customer and create new businesses for Boeing. Despite our customer's initial skepticism that we had the right stuff, Phantom Works pursued the program and impressed the customer, using its 'best-of-Boeing' approach and later a 'best-of-industry' approach. The rest is now history.”

The 'best-of-Boeing" approach was spearheaded by Ron Prosser, vice president and general manager of Integrated Advanced Defense Systems Phantom Works (IdeAS), with Bob Mitchell serving as the Phase I Concept Development program manager, and Jerry McElwee serving as the Concept and Technology Demonstration (CTD) phase program manager.

"Both phases required us to reach out across the enterprise to find the best people, tools, technologies and processes to focus on finding the best possible solution for the customer," said Prosser. "The team was composed of people from California, Seattle, Mesa, St. Louis, Houston and Philadelphia, most of whom had never met each other before." Boeing reached out beyond the best in the company to include the "best of industry" by teaming with its former competitor, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to become the Lead System Integrator (LSI) for the program.

Tapping the best of the best

To ensure the best Future Combat Systems proposal, Phantom Works leaders scoured the enterprise to recruit Boeing's best minds, talents and skills.

Ron Prosser, who headed up the FCS effort for Boeing Phantom Works, said, "If we're helping the Army to be more mobile, agile, flexible and responsive, we must be all of those things ourselves."

Phantom Works called upon engineering site leaders for engineers and technologists from the Phantom Works core group of engineers or from the business units.

Boeing also teamed with Science Applications International Corporation a research-and-engineering company that has strong U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Army experience, said Jerry McElwee, the Concept Development Phase program manager.

George Muellner, president of Phantom Works during the FCS effort and now senior vice president of Air Force Systems at Integrated Defense Systems, credits the FCS team with building credibility with both DARPA and the Army.

People at SAIC and Boeing rotorcraft locations provided supportability, technical research, and modeling-and-simulation know-how. Seattle provided data and "force development" experts. The space group at Anaheim provided battle-management expertise. Members of the "platform" group that handled ground vehicles, robotics, and unmanned air vehicles were drawn from around the United States. The experts ranged from design and structures engineers to special communications network experts to signature management, or "stealth," professionals.

"We were able to merge the best of each of our concepts to provide the lowest-risk approach to achieving initial operational capability of this," Prosser said. "Our customer wasn't looking for a traditional prime contractor, but rather a partner. We would work with them to develop the best overall approach. We would retain about a third of the work inside the LSI and act as an honest broker to hold competitions and select from across the best of industry the right family of solutions. For the first time, we weren't trying to optimize performance of an individual platform. Rather we needed to optimize force effectiveness across a system of systems that involved many platforms. The network is the key. This meant, for example, finding the best radar solution for unmanned aerial vehicles that provided the right targeting information for beyond-line-of-sight and line-of-sight Army, joint and coalition weapons in a netted environment."

Jerry McElwee, vice president and program manager of the FCS CTD phase, said, "Maintaining objectivity was critical in trying to serve our customer needs and in building confidence that we could meet the challenges of integrating a system of systems beyond what any of our customers have done in the past." To do that, he said, "We created a very entrepreneurial environment."

In summarizing the successful approach, Phantom Works President Bob Krieger said that beyond a "passion to succeed," the Boeing team gained the decisive competitive edge for five key reasons:

"First of all, we had great people from across Boeing," he said. "We also had a superb partner in SAIC. We kept ourselves on track through the advice offered through independent reviews by some top-class outside experts. Moreover, we had outstanding tools and processes—modeling and simulation being one of them. And finally, we had the fine, undivided leadership of Ron Prosser, who temporarily stepped down as our IDeAS vice president and general manager to devote all his time to guiding FCS through to the critically important milestone."

The program now transitions to IDS and its Army Systems business unit, whose leadership praised the efforts of Phantom Works on the project.

Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Integrated Defense Systems, thanked the entire FCS team for its efforts in achieving this latest critical milestone in the program. "Boeing is committed to continuing our partnership with the Army and is proud to team with the best of industry on a systems solution that is important to our customer, to the Army and to our country," he said. "The work of the FCS team," he said, "positions Boeing as a leader in the area of military transformation."

Boeing Army Systems Senior Vice President Roger Krone expressed special thanks to Prosser and McElwee. "Prosser did a great job of helping lead FCS" and has "set a precedent for Army Systems to follow," Krone said. He lauded McElwee for being instrumental in guiding the program through to Milestone B. McElwee will continue to support the FCS program during the transition period. Meanwhile, Dennis Muilenburg has been named FCS program manager for Army Systems.

Prosser said he was privileged to be part of a "world-class team" able to take a "zero-biased" view of a set of issues and come up with solutions perfect for the customer.

"What we were able to achieve on this program is an example of the power of Boeing and Phantom Works," said Swain. "The FCS experience has shown that the future belongs to those who have the vision to see what our customers want and need—and the courage to act upon that vision."

Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
© 2003 The Boeing Company. All rights reserved.