On May 13, 2010, the Department of Defense announced that it authorized the Army to cancel the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) and transition management responsibilities for system development and acquisition from the old Future Combat System (FCS) program – currently aligned under Program Executive Office – Integration (PEO I) – to the PEOs that already manage similar systems.
Referring to one of the “Capability Portfolio Reviews” being performed for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, the announcement read, in part, “The Precision Fires portfolio review examined the balance of high-end precision munitions and lower-end near-precision munitions. A detailed analysis of alternatives determined that the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) does not provide a cost-effective precision fire capability. The Army intends to pursue other capabilities to engage a moving target in all-weather conditions in order to fulfill the operational requirement defined for the NLOS-LS. As a result, the Army concluded NLOS-LS is no longer required; the Secretary of the Army recommended cancellation and the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics approved and authorized the request.”
In addition to authorizing cancellation of NLOS-LS, two other precision fire programs are to be cut back: “Additionally, analysis from the portfolio review concluded a reduction in the number of Excalibur and Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative rounds was also warranted; the Secretary of the Army also recommended approval of these proposed reductions, which the Department approved as well.”
While the Army’s NLOS-LS program cancellation had been anticipated by some, one issue that has remained slightly clouded since mid-May involves impact on the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program.
Specifically, NLOS-LS had been identified as a major component of the LCS Surface Warfare (SUW) mission package. Specifically designed to defeat fast in-shore attack craft, the SUW Mission Package included NLOS-LS as well as 30 mm gun modules. The NLOS-LS medium range surface-to-surface missile module had been scheduled to begin at-sea testing in 2012.
Asked about the impact of the Army cancellation on the Navy plans, a spokesman for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition responded, “The Navy is assessing a number of alternatives for the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS). Some alternatives under consideration include proceeding with NLOS without Army participation, utilizing a combination of existing capabilities with surface to surface capability, other medium range surface to surface missile systems and increased airborne armaments.”
“All alternatives will be evaluated for capability, cost, ship impact, ability to meet schedule and benefits or drawbacks to other mission areas,” he stated, adding, “The Navy expects completion of this evaluation late summer 2010.”