Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, will proceed to design and testing of the Army's $100 billion networked-warfare project...

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Boeing, the second-largest U.S. defense contractor, will proceed to design and testing of the Army’s $100 billion networked-warfare project after its blueprint for the system was approved.

Subcontractors, including General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Computer Sciences, will begin developing computer-linked manned and unmanned air and ground weapons systems that make up the Army’s Future Combat Systems. The first field test is scheduled for next year, Boeing said.

Future Combat Systems, the Pentagon’s second-most-costly program, will be a family of faster, lighter battle vehicles linked by high-speed, digital communications and new combat radios.

Boeing plans to deliver the first weapon platform in 2008 and release the others in two-year intervals with network capability among all weapons systems planned for 2014.

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The program, which is about two years into its $20.9 billion development contract, passed a five-day review by the Army, Department of Defense and Government Accountability Office to verify that Army requirements can be met and that the program is meeting cost, performance and schedule targets.

Boeing’s base fee will be 3 percent of the nearly $21 billion contract, down from 10 percent, while its potential “award fee” or bonus, rises to 12 percent from 5 percent, program manager Brig. Gen. Charles Cartwright said last month.