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The purpose of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program is to find, assess, and field world-class products with a high Technology Readiness Level (TRL) to enhance military capabilities and provide long-term value. Essentially, FCT is the “front door” that allows the U.S. DoD to evaluate unique, non-US technology.
Objectives of FCT program
FCT improves United States warfighter capabilities and reduces expenditures by:
- Reducing life cycle or procurement costs
- Eliminating unnecessary duplication of research, development, test, and evaluation
- Rapidly fielding quality military equipment
- Enhancing standardization and interoperability
- Promoting competition by qualifying alternative sources
- Improving the United States military industrial base
For these reasons, technologies should present:
- Significant cost savings resulting in positive ROI
- Significant performance enhancements
- Significant schedule savings resulting in earlier fielded capability
- Novel, Innovative approaches
Program track record
To date, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) has invested about $1.42 billion into the FCT program. It has collaborated with 34 countries and funded 819 projects. Many of these projects were ready for implementation earlier than expected as participation in the program accelerated fieldwork by 2 to 4 years.
The average investment per project is between $500,000 and $700,000 per year, and an average project lasts about 18 to 24 months. The program reviews hundreds of technologies and supports 10 to 15 new starts per year.
Capabilities and technologies of interest
The program is looking for solutions that can support readiness and joint lethality in contested environments including the ability to:
- Improve the ability to strike the enemy, across the spectrum from close combat in complex terrain to mobile targets inside adversary air and missile defense networks
- Improve the ability to deploy, survive, operate, maneuver, and regenerate in all domains while under attack, to include active and passive defenses as well as distributed logistics and maintenance technologies
FCT is interested in a broad range of technologies, including but not limited to:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Directed Energy
- Fully-networked Command, Control, and Communications (FNC3)
- Quantum Science and Computing
There is a set process to be considered for the FCT program. This includes:
- Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) / Services & USSOCOM announce call for proposals
- Foreign vendors submit applications
- Services assess the proposals; Provide top 10 to OSD
- OSD review process
- OSD approval / project notification
Canadian participation in FCT
In Canada, the Department of National Defence, in collaboration with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Regional Development Agencies, and the Canadian Commercial Corporation, facilitate Canadian industrial participation in the FCT program by actively identifying and matching unique, world class, non-developmental technologies with U.S. operational requirements.
If you are a Canadian company and would like to receive additional information or to express interest in participating in this program, contact the International and Industry Programs Division at the Department of National Defence.
Examples of FCT participating projects
Naval Strike Missiles (NSM)
The Naval Strike Missile is a long-range, precision-strike weapon that can find and destroy enemy ships at distances up to 100 nautical miles. Produced by Raytheon, the missile skims the surface of the water and is so accurate that crews can pinpoint which part of the enemy ship to destroy using the ship’s integrated combat system.
In May 2018, the Navy awarded $14,8M contract for the initial procurement of NSMs and launches for fielding on LCS and future frigates. NSMs fill a capability gap for the Navy’s Over-the-Horizon Weapon System (OTH-WS).
The Army has improved its live-fire training for small unit tactics at military operation urbanized terrain sites and decreased the size requirements for small-arms ranges, thanks to the 7.62mm short range training ammunition cartridge. Developed by Canadian SNC Technologies, the cartridge was a solution to bullets traveling beyond the standard target distances, a problem that posed obvious safety issues.
The 7.62mm cartridge is another success example under the FCT program. By 2009, more than 800,000 rounds had been produced for the Army’s inventory and the U.S. Navy had fielded more than 800,000 rounds.
The aluminum alloy 5059 (AA5059), which was developed by Aleris of Germany, provides increased ballistic and blast protection for armored hull-type vehicles. Its easy weldability and impressive corrosion resistance make it an ideal candidate material for a diverse range of applications.
The Army used AA5059 in the RG-33 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles deployed in Iraq, In addition to protecting warfighters, the lighter weight of AA5059 means greater fuel economy and enhanced system performance, and the decreased rate of corrosion lowers overall lifecycle costs.
The engine air particle separator (EAPS) for the CH-47 cargo helicopter is manufactured by U.K.’s Pall Aeropower Corp and it swirls engine inlet air at a high velocity to separate particulate matter via centrifugal force. When used in dusty or sandy environments, it can significantly increase engine life because it decreases erosion of engine components, thus reducing engine repair costs.
Buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle
Developed by Denel-Mechem of South Africa for mine clearing operations, especially improvised explosive devices, the Buffalo mine-protected clearance vehicle protects soldiers and was in operation throughout Iraq. After FCT qualification in 2002, the first two production units were deployed in support of another FCT success, the interim vehicle-mounted magnetic mine detection (IVMMD) system.
Learn more about FCT
If you are a Canadian company and would like to receive additional information or to express interest in participating in the Foreign Comparative Testing, contact the International and Industry Programs Division at the Department of National Defence. If you would like to learn more about other opportunities to sell the U.S. Department of Defence, contact us.
This article will guide you through everything you need to know about the size and scale of the opportunities available to Canadian-based U.S. DoD contractors. You’ll also learn how the public procurement process works and how you can leverage it to help grow your business.
To win contracts in the massive U.S. defence market, Canadian firms need to understand where to find opportunities and how to navigate the sometimes-complex mechanisms and processes involved in becoming a ready bidder.
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