Where is the Future Scout Cavalry System?


BAE's (formerly known as UDLP) FSCS "Tracer" prototype

British plastic ACAV armored personnel carrier

The U.S. Army since WWII has not had a Cavalry Branch since Chief of Cavalry, General John Herr refused to mechanize (he wanted horses) to insure mobile, armored general-purpose COMBAT forces using light tracked Armored Fighting Vehicles has Soldiers and equipment that can rapidly 3D air-deploy by fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, that on land are very cross-country 2D mobile to include being amphibious. General James M. Gavin realized we needed non-linear, lethal battlefield mobility after WWII and Korea and solved the problem with the aluminum-alloyed armored Airborne Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle Family (AAM/PVF) which became the airdrop/amphibious 10.5 ton M113 Gavins used so effectively in combat by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and others in Vietnam, and continues by over 35 countries to the present day, particularly the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in combat against middle eastern terrorists. Turn your TV on and watch! However after Vietnam, without a Cavalry Branch, the combat experienced ACAV Soldiers were forced out of the Army and the correct M113-type light tracked Cavalry mounts replaced with bloated overweight, cannot swim, 25-33 ton Bradley M3 CFV heavy tracks and vulnerable, rubber-tired HMMWV trucks by the ruling unsound "Armor" branch that wants to just duel other tanks from heavy, defensive 70-ton M1 tanks. The "Heavy Army" composed of M1/M2/M3 tanks cannot rapidly deploy by USAF aircraft via airdrop so various attempts have been made to create a cavalry type force---all without first creating a Cavalry Branch from-scratch or renaming and fixing Armor Branch---and thus have failed because there is no doctrinally-sound group of smart people with budgetary power to insure the vehicles and units get properly formed and equipped, and this capability steadily improved on year in and year out.

Working around heavy Armor Branch like the 9th Hight Technology Test Bed Division in the 1980s using dune buggies and HMMWV trucks and the current Interim Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) using 20-24 ton LAV-III armored cars have failed because both are anti-Cavalry digital firepower bombardment RMA/Tofflerian techno-concoctions that roll on air-filled rubber tires with mental computer gadgetry and cannot physically FIGHT because they were designed by people who do not understand the need for PHYSICAL MANEUVER or want true Cavalry general-purpose combat forces; the current Recon Surveillance, Target Acquisition (RSTA) mentality is the idea that we can somehow sneak up and do intelligence collection and the enemy will not interfere; a ploy that failed miserably in WWII. Stealth is important, but you have to be able to FIGHT for accurate information. We must realize soon that we NO LONGER "OWN" THE NIGHT: the enemy has night vision devices, too. This means we need better infared camouflage and we can't get this wasting money reinventing the wheel buying multiple billion dollars worth of LAV-III/Striker armored car deathtraps.

Generally, the British Army is smarter and more tactically sound than the U.S. Army and marines from derived from a THINKING warrior ethos, they rightfully concluded that the Future Scout and Cavalry System (vehicle, the FSCS "Tracer") should be TRACKED in order to be able to go cross-country at will and be robust to still move if taken under enemy fire.

Details of the U.S./U.K. FSCS Tracer program:

FAS excellent web page on FSCS

However, during 1999-2003, then U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Shinseki like General Herr in 1940, wanted his own "pet platform" regardless that all of the facts are against this choice; in this case, air-filled rubber tire vehicles---so the promising U.S./U.K. FSCS Tracer program shown in the U.S. Army TACOM power points offered below was cancelled. Fortunately, this malicious action may be a blessing in disguise. First, the courageous British have persevered and went it alone and created a FSCS Tracer prototype revealed here for the first time to the world---see slides from #20 onward! See photo above. Next, this delay has resulted in many of us realizing that what a new scout vehicle design can offer can be transplanted onto existing M113-type AFVs.


FSCS Tracer prototype with 40mm tank-killing Bofors cannon, hybrid-electric drive and band-tracks operational! Note that its cargo 747 air-transportable!

FCSC Tracer Prototype Slides #20-28

We cannot make the same mistake that General Shinseki did during 1999-2003 by waiting for years for a new purchase vehicle to be developed and fixed...we must create a Cavalry-type force in the U.S. Army IMMEDIATELY, as in hours. This means designate the 2nd ACR as the new "2nd Advanced Armored Cavalry Regiment" (2nd AACR), pull 200+ M113s out of war stock and DO IT.

If we want anything other than an upgraded M113A3 Gavins for the majority of the U.S. Army's 3D capable "Cavalry", "Breaking the Phalanx", "Air-Mech-Strike" (you chose the name) forces, we are going to FAIL just like General Meyer's 9th HTTD "dune buggies" and General Shinseki's LAV-III armored car "IAVs". We need light tracks and they have to be IN ARMY SERVICE NOW, "off-the-shelf" purchases are unfeasible, unwise and not needed except for two specialty areas; a light cavalry tank (M8 Buford AGS) and an internal CH-47 and UH-60 helicopter transportable tracked AFV for the 101st Air Assault Division. New designs and purchases are absolute technowonk fantasies like the Future Combat System (FCS) that will not solve immediate U.S. Army needs TODAY and only waste time and money offering nothing in return when we realize they are too costly to build. Chuck Spinney's "Death Spiral" of buying every smaller and smaller numberes of more and more expensive new platforms must be understood and avoided. We must upgrade what we have and move out and fight.

The bottom line is a new under 20-ton tracked vehicle can only be slightly better than a M113A3 Gavin in two ways; the way its shaped and what its made of. All other technological advancements can be spliced onto M113A3 Gavins (and any other existing Army platforms) to include v-hull shaping the bottom to better deflect land mines, since we can achieve this with add-on belly armor to M113A3s. The only benefit of a from-scratch light AFV could be making it out of composites; bad news---the only advantage gained is twice the Kinetic Energy (KE, bullets, shrapnel etc.) protection at the same weight---11 tons of FSCS in ceramics gets you 12.7mm protection instead of 7.62mm AP in an as-is M113A3. This is irrelevent because you need spaced titanium applique and ERA to defeat RPGs and single-warhead ATGMs anyway. If you are going to add applique' you automatically get 30mm autocannon KE protection at the same time on a M113A3. Also remember "plastic tanks" are not proven durable for years of abuse.

Another problem with many RMA concepts is not having any or enough dismounting Cavalry Soldiers to ACTUALLY INSURE TARGETS ARE TARGETS! Lack of on-the-ground HUMINT is the reason why we have been wasting millions on precision munitions blowing up mere decoys and civilians in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The unsound mentality that retired manned air recon platforms like the SR-71 because it bruised senior officer egos that thinks unmanned UAVs and UGV robots looking through narrow "soda straws" via remote video imagery are the same as human eyes-on-target is ludicrous. UAVs are easily shot down and often cannot fly in bad weather.

Even the USAF has had to grudgingly admit recently that it needs men on the ground to control air strikes:

European Stars and Stripes
August 15, 2002

Afghanistan War Showing Air Force The Importance Of 'Eyes On The Ground'

By Lisa Burgess, Stars and Stripes

ARLINGTON, Va. - Afghanistan has added a "new wrinkle"; to the Air Force's basic doctrine, according to the service's top analyst for the war on terrorism: Wars aren't won by air alone.

The rugged and unforgiving mountains of Central Asia have revealed many hard truths to each of the services. But for the Air Force, perhaps no single lesson resonates more clearly, Col. Fred Weiners said Tuesday: "Eyes on the ground" are essential to round out the advanced space- and air-based sensors, weapons and platforms that make up the service's inventory.

"You can have all the high technology you want, but it's these 25-year-old staff sergeants on the ground making strike decisions" that, according to Weiners, have in the past been made by high-level planning officers located nowhere near the battlefield.

Weiners is acting director of the Air Force's Task Force Enduring Look, and spoke with Stripes in an interview in his office in Arlington, Va.

Air campaigns traditionally have been planned in advance. Coordinates have been known, and target sets could be chosen from data gathered weeks or months in advance.

To hear an Air Force official emphasizing the need for "boots on the ground" is a significant shift in conventional U.S. military thinking.

The Army and marine corps both are founded on the principle that war is never won until "boots hit the ground" - when military personnel actually occupy the turf. The Air Force has tended to be dominated by officers who believe air operations alone can conquer an enemy.

In Afghanistan, however, forward air controllers and special operations forces -not planners sitting in Washington with maps and satellite photographs - have been responsible for almost all critical targeting calls, Weiners said.

"They are our most versatile and highly sophisticated sensor, and they are proving highly effective," Weiners said. "They dramatically enhance overall air power and bombing effectiveness."

Thanks to ground controllers, "We've enjoyed an accuracy like we've never enjoyed," Weiners said - and not only due to more sophisticated "smart" bombs, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

Sensor-To-Shooter Loop

But Afghanistan also revealed a critical break in this "sensor-to-shooter" loop: Air Force pilots had not had enough practice working with the ground operators, particularly the special operations forces.

The service has moved with extraordinary speed to remedy that deficiency, Weiners said.

His task force first identified the need for more pilot training with ground forces in January, and by June, pilots at the Air Force Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., were "engaging special operations forces on the ground, including full mission profiles and simulations, to replicate what we were doing [in Afghanistan]."

Not every lesson coming out of Afghanistan is revolutionary. Much of what the Air Force is gleaning validates tactics and technologies that have worked well in exercises, but never have been proven in combat, Weiners said.

One especially critical validation to come out of the Central Asian campaign is proof that the Air Force's Air and Space Expeditionary Forces, which were designed for peacetime, also work in war, Weiners said.

As the Defense Department continued to pull back from its overseas bases throughout the 1990s, Air Force leaders decided they needed a way to keep the increasingly home-based service ready for action.

C-17 Proves Itself

One example: Afghanistan is the first major conflict for the Pentagon that has required "everything to come in and out by air," Weiners noted.

The Air Force's newest transport, the C-17, was key, Weiners said.

"The C-17 really proved itself, given the austere nature of our bases" in Central Asia, he said.

Creative aircrews also have found ways for the C-17 to perform that its designers never anticipated, Weiners said, citing in particular its function as a "mobile filling station."

Afghanistan has no fuel supply infrastructure, and roads there are so treacherous that trucking large amounts of fuel in is out of the question.

That means every drop of aviation gas and jet fuel needed by the U.S. forces is supplied by the Pentagon's fleet of KC-10 and KC-135 tanker aircraft.

Meanwhile, Army and marine helicopters and the assorted special operations aircraft stationed at the rough airfields that dot Afghanistan "need a lot of gas," Weiners said.

During Operation Anaconda in March, when fuel was at an absolute premium, an unknown airman came up with a novel idea to get fuel to the fighters quickly: Combine the C-17's ability to land almost anywhere with its large fuel tanks.

"We would park a tanker in an orbit, and the C-17 would go up, tap the tanker, land and off-load the fuel - and now you have avgas [aviation gas]" where tankers can't land, Weiners said.

Bombers With Eyes

Another much-discussed evolution was the decision to use of Cold-war era strategic bombers in tactical combat.

The Air Force's B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers all were originally designed to deliver nuclear munitions in end-of-the-world scenarios.

In Afghanistan, however, Air Force officials took advantage of the bombers' extensive payloads, range and high-altitude capability to deliver lethal strikes on enemy forces - all while being directed by ground-based forces.

The bombers proved very effective, Weiners said.

"The B-1s and B-52s flew approximately 10 percent of the sorties and delivered close to 60 percent of the weapons," Weiners said.

During the Gulf War, B-52s dropped some 30 percent of all U.S. bombs. Neither the B-1 nor the B-2 was deployed.

One reason for that is the versatility of the bombers: They can carry traditional "dumb" bombs, but thanks to modifications, they also can deliver a range of smart weapons.

Secondly, all this can be done with greater standoff. The bombers fly much higher than fighter craft with no need for a visual, using coordinates from forward air controllers - the eyes on the ground.

Change comes with difficulty for the military; it's a "risk-averse group," Weiners said.

But, he said, "this is a great time to question the old way of doing things."

But will the USAF admit that we need GROUND MANEUVER to win wars?

Or that slower-flying MANNED, armored attack aircraft are needed to do CAS?

The X-45 UCAV will be unmanned "fall guy" to do dirty work of making enemy Air Defenses reveal themselves to clear way for manned fighter-bombers to strategic bomb with some token USAF FACs and SOF on the ground shining laser beams so USAF can get the glory.

However, X-45 UCAV will neither be agile or observant enough to do CAS to enable ground MANEUVER. It will have problems like most UAVs have of simply not flying themselves into the ground.

The answer is:

CAS/MAS Air-Ground Team

A-10s in a "Cactus Air Force" guided by USAF FACs for CAS

Army helos and U/MCAV "Killer Bees" flying Maneuver Air Support (MAS) guided by Army Attack Pathfinders

Sergeant Dwayne C. Thacker writes in the July/August 1999, U.S. Army ARMOR magazine and makes an irrefutable case on why we need HUMINT-gathering dismounting scouts (disregard his unarmored pick-up truck as a platform over-compensation) to obtain accurate reconnaissance:

Scout Vehicle Designs Must Allow for Easy Dismount

Our casualty aversion mentality is just going to create more casualties later on as we bomb innocent civilians and worse, we let the enemy escape so he can do a 9/11 asymmetric attack on the American homeland; possibly killing MILLIONS with a backpack nuclear or other WMD device. America needs DECISIVE MANEUVER not just firepower strikes that fail to control ground, change governments and achieve complete victory over enemies. The FSCS MUST carry at least 4 dismounting Cavalry Soldiers to do effective HUMINT target verification, the M113A3 Gavin can carry 11!...so a 4-man Cav Scout Team and all their sensors and equipment is no problem. A 2-man Scout/Tracker Dog team should also be employed to have better situational awareness than just over-relying on electronic devices/gadgets that require human interpretation. Therefore, the M113A3 is the best "FSCS".

Therefore, instead of throwing $3+ million and wasting 10 years per new FSCS purchase we can get M113A3s with silent hybrid-electric drive, 25-35mm autocannon turrets, 30mm/RPG resistant applique' armor, infared camouflage, band tracks for 50+ mph road speeds, all the C4I you can dream of for less than $1 million per vehicle. The M113A3s being modified in this way can be done at the plant while the 2nd AACR troops train on war-stock M113A2/3s and get READY NOW for real, not imaginary combats.

Any kind of new vehicle development and acquisition, testing for a "plastic tank" FSCS or "plastic armored car" FCS and the effort will fail from complexity, loss of momentum and possible technical failure using unproven materials. Over-reliance on unmanned sensors without adequate HUMINT Scouts is a recipe for continued financial and human disaster blowing up rocks, decoys and civilians.

The M113A3 is already tested and approved for combat, C-130 airland/airdrop, CH-47 helicopter lift, for Army-type classified use. Spare parts and trained mechanics are ready. Everything we wanted to do with FSCS Tracer, we can do better with M113A3s! Upgrade M113A3 Gavins and make them the "FSCS".

Click here to start

Table of Contents

Slide 1 LTC Jack Reif, DPM FSCS

Slide 2 C-130 constraints

Slide 3 C-130 dimensional limits

Slide 4 Active Protection Systems

Slide 5 3-man crew (not enough dismounts)

Slide 6 Mission weapons/sensors

Slide 7 Propulsion means (incorrect weights listed)

Slide 8 Armored structure

Slide 9 Applique' armor

Slide 10 Both new vehicles too heavy for C-130

Slide 11 Weight/Volume costs (based on faulty figures)

Slide 12 Mobility, Survivability, Firepower choices?

Slide 13 M113A4 MTVL with autocannon = FSCS

Slide 14 M113A4 MTVL mobility superior to wheels

Slide 15 Go/NO-GO terrain for tracks and wheels

Slide 16 Germany WET terrain comparison

Slide 17 Iraq-type dry desert terrain mobility

Slide 18 Tracks more mobile in Iraq-type wet terrains

Slide 19 Summary

Slide 20a FSCS Tracer protype Intro

Slide 20 Cargo 747 transport

Slide 21 Close-up

Slide 22 FCS variants FSCS could fulfil

Slide 23 Front-View

Slide 24 Side-view

Slide 25 3/4 view

Slide 26 Advanced technology

Slide 27 40mm autocannon

Slide 28 Ready today

Email: itsg@hotmail.com

Airborne Equipment Shop (AES)




"Pretty good article at www.geocities.com/fscswheelsvstracks

Your article covers most of my military career. As an enlisted soldier with 3rd ACR in the mid-80's, I 'fought' those guys in 9th ID in their dune buggys. What a joke. Seemed they were always running around on three flat tires. I spent eight years on M113's as a scout. Good vehicle, but loud.

A good hybrid electric drive and band track would take care of that. I drove one with band track while stationed at WES, 1999-2000. It felt really good. We were doing some band track testing for TAACOM and I helped with that wheels vs. tracks mobility study done for LTC Reif.

This may sound ironic, but I was also on the Subject Matter Expert Team that supported the LANCER consortia during the FSCS ATD while stationed at Fort Knox. UDLP built the H-E drive chassis with band track, Alvis the turret, Raytheon the sensor suite, and BAE integrated it all. The first picture in your article is of the chassis at UDLP in San Jose, CA, with a mock up turret and gun. Slide 20 shows the fully integrated demonstrator with the real turret and gun. Unfortunately, that is the only picture. The rest are just the chassis with the mock up turret. The picture with the plane is showing the chassis only. The turret wasn't integrated until later in the UK. I was also part of the user trials in the UK. That demonstrator was the only armored vehicle I have ever driven that drove like a go-cart; agile, fast, and had great acceleration. On batteries only, it was silent as a mouse without the scream of an engine or squeak of a steel track. Like I said, great article though I have a couple of corrections.

"First, the courageous British have persevered and went it alone and created a FSCS Tracer prototype revealed here for the first time to the world---see slides from #20 onward! See photo above."

The Brits didn't go it alone.

The Integrated Demonstrator or ID (we didn't call it a prototype, there is a difference) was the effort of the LANCER consortia. The SIKA consortia had their own ID. (In my opinion LANCER's ID was much better.) Once the U.S. pulled the plug on the funding, the Brits had to fold too. They couldn't afford it on their own. The Lancer ID got ripped apart after the trials and the parts got sent back to the builders. No more LANCER ID, very unfortunate.

Neither of the ID's (both LANCER and SIKA) had a 40mm Bofors cannon.

It was decided to go with a 40mm gun firing Cased Telescopic Ammunition (CTA) manufactured by CTA International a French/Brit subsidary of Giat. It is an awesome gun, packing a 40mm punch in a 25mm envelope. Here are a couple of links.


Just so you wouldn't think I am some jerk blowing smoke, I have attached a picture of the LANCER ID and myself taken during the user trials in the UK, April-July 2002.

Fell free to contact me, if you have any questions.


"Yes, but eventually the Soldier will have to close with the enemy in an environment where 'stand-off' capability is made moot; an environment where training, firepower, protection, and guts are the keys to victory." -