A December decision by the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approved production of new capabilities for one Brigade Combat Team, the Army said.

The Increment 1 Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (BCT) acquisition program capabilities are to give infantry soldiers an increased ability to understand their environment, improve their effectiveness and keep them safer.

The new capabilities, which evolved from the Future Combat System (FCS), include: iRobot‘s [IRBT] Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, the Class 1 Block 0 Unmanned Air System, developed by Honeywell [HON), Textron‘s [TXT] Unattended Ground Sensors, the Non-Line of Sight Launch System, a NetFires LLC joint venture between Raytheon [RTN] and Lockheed Martin [LMT], and an early increment of the network.

The capabilities will be fielded to Infantry Brigade Combat Teams beginning in 2011.

As prime contractor, Boeing [BA] and SAIC [SAI] are responsible for the development and production of Increment 1. The two companies also led the FCS work.

“The decision to enter initial production demonstrates Boeing’s commitment to develop and field the types of networked capabilities and technologies that our warfighters need today in Afghanistan,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. “Boeing and our partners look forward to delivering the initial set of equipment to the Army.”

In June, the Army gave Boeing an $18 million contract to procure long-lead items and tooling and test equipment to support initial Increment 1 deliveries (Defense Daily, Jun 16).

The Dec. 22 DAB for Increment 1 thoroughly reviewed the developmental maturity of the equipment, requirements, testing and evaluation and production plans. resulting in an acquisition decision approving the Increment 1 capabilities to move into Low Rate Initial Production for one BCT equipment set.

The DAB was held at the conclusion of a series of Defense Department and Army reviews and testing as well as design and production capability testing by industry partners (Defense Daily, Nov. 6, 2 Dec. 2, 23).

The equipment will be used in Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in FY2011.

The Army plans continued testing of all Increment 1 assets over the next two years.

The service is also executing a plan to incrementally increase and demonstrate network maturity and system reliability to support continued production and fielding of future brigades based upon successful testing and evaluation over the next couple of years.