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New Directions in Manufacturing: Report of a Workshop
particularly important for receiving and visualizing the information now available to the individual soldier. The Army investment is in flexible display technologies (transparent conductive and emissive materials) for soldier applications.
Affordable, lightweight armor for lightweight combat platforms is a critical issue for FCS and the Objective Force. The Army investment in this area is low-cost composites and high-performance appliqué armor. Signature management and low-observable technologies in all bands of interest are, in the words of the independent assessment panel, “likely to be critical to the success of the FCS Program.” The Army investment is in low-observable materials and structures.
The accuracy of cannon-launched projectiles as well as advanced missiles can be significantly improved by the use of advanced guidance systems coupled to global positioning technology. The Army investment is in low-cost, high-g-force, high-accuracy MEMS-based inertial measurement units. This was the first program to also combine both S&T development funding with MANTECH funding. Current funding is not adequate to cover all of the NCAT panel recommendations, but the Army’s MANTECH Program has responded within budget guidance. Manufacturing programs that are currently on the Band 1 Unfunded Requirement List include low-cost uncooled infrared focal planes, conformal optics, 3-D laser radar, energetics (propellants and explosives), durable barrel materials, and MEMS for safety, arm, and fuzing.
What should be the appropriate level of funding per year necessary for MANTECH to properly address FCS and the Objective Force? There are two sources of guidance available to us. During the development of the “Big Five” weapon systems in the 1970s and the early 1980s, the Army’s MANTECH investment peaked near $200 million per year and was consistently more than $150 million per year for a number of years, declining sharply in the mid- to late-1980s. The NCAT panel also provided us an estimate for funding both Level I and Level II projects of $164 million per year. In the FY04 budget, MANTECH is funded at $66 million, about 40 percent of the NCAT estimate.
Finally, it is important to recognize that MANTECH is an investment for which there is a savings in production cost. There have been a number of studies over the years attempting to quantify this number. Our best estimates, both from industry and government studies, suggest a 10-to-1 average return on investment. In the 1990s, $48 million MANTECH investment in Javelin focal planes resulted in estimated savings of $364 million. Before MANTECH, the unit cost was greater than or equal to $50,000 per unit; after MANTECH it is less than or equal to $5,000 per unit (21,000 units). Clearly there are potentially significant savings in production cost through strategic MANTECH investments.