Foreign Comparative Testing Program

Article excerpt

Picture this; you are deployed overseas in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom on a mission with other coalition forces. As you engage the enemy thorough coalition operations, you notice that your coalition partners have a piece of equipment that really makes a difference. You wish your military service had that piece of gear and wonder, how soon could I get my hands on that equipment, and what would it really take to get the item into service?

What if I was to tell you that U.S. warfighters can rapidly (six months to three years depending on the item and restrictions) get their hands on superior foreign equipment and technology they see while serving in friendly foreign counties around the world? What if I were to tell you that this includes the time to test and field the equipment? The answer, we can do just that via the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) Program managed from Comparative Testing Office (CTO) in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics). From bullets to aircraft loading equipment to nanotechnology, the FCT program provides funding for test articles and the testing and evaluation of foreign equipment. Additionally, since the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Congress approve the projects, procurement funding is virtually locked-in for the specific projects. FCT gives the U.S. warfighter a way to acquire needed assets within 6-24 months of submitting a proposal. Candidate projects are submitted annually to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) by June, and funding is normally released by mid-October. With a two year test to procure goal, the FCT program saves time, money and effort versus the lengthy traditional acquisition cycle.

Since its inception in 1990, the Foreign Comparative Testing Program has funded over projects with $932 million, resulting in procurements in excess of $6.7 billion in fiscal year 2005 constant year dollars. Fifty-five million dollars has been awarded to the USAF over the past twenty years, resulting in procurements in excess of $1 billion.

Through the FCT Program, all of the military services are afforded the opportunity to leverage our allies' technologies, and provide the warfighter with much needed equipment, in a rapid manner. Each military service has a program office dedicated to supporting the FCT Program. The efforts of each program office allow the program to grow stronger and gain support and interest from warfighters and foreign vendors alike. The representatives from each of the military services attend all major international Air Shows, as well as conduct industry tour of various nations, looking for equipment that could satisfy the needs of the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines. …