The Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) mission is to find, assess and field world-class technologies to enhance the capabilities of the US warfighter while providing long-term value.
Since 1980, the FCT Program has helped to foster the two-way street in defence spending between the US and its allies through the procurement of more than $11 billion in foreign items. At the same time, the program has reaped substantial savings by avoiding research and development costs, lowering procurement costs, reducing risk for major acquisition programs, and accelerating the fielding of equipment critical to the readiness and safety of US operating forces.
While the aim of the FCT Program is to improve the US Armed Forces’ operational performance, this leveraging of foreign research and development has benefited the US taxpayer. Additionally, the FCT Program has served as a catalyst for industry teaming arrangements, which have been productive for both US and foreign industries in an increasingly competitive global market, helping to build a robust US defence industrial base.
The FCT Program’s objectives are to improve the US warfighter’s capabilities and reduce expenditures through:
- Rapidly fielding quality military equipment;
- Eliminating unnecessary duplication of research, development, test and evaluation;
- Reducing life cycle or procurement costs;
- Enhancing standardisation and interoperability;
- Promoting competition by qualifying alternative sources; and
- Improving the US military-industrial base.
Colonel Douglas Creviston, Director, Comparative Technology Office, FCT, explained the role and benefit of the FCT for Australian business.
"FCT exposes foreign companies to the demands and requirements of the US warfighter, it also provides the opportunity for greater integration and collaboration with the US research and development ecosystem," he said.
FCT supports US international armaments co-operation through the test and evaluation of mature foreign systems and subsystems, with a focus on immediate capability delivery, better performance and reduced life cycle costs to benefit the warfighter. FCT funding pays for the lease or purchase of foreign test equipment and the associated evaluation costs.
Following a successful test, the sponsoring organisation is responsible for any follow-on procurements and fielding, which Col Creviston described: "We make the connections between the product in the market and the user need or stated requirement. That all begins with learning what is out there, with a primary focus on delivering performance to the warfighter, closer alliances and 'mateship' are just a positive by-product."
FCT is part of an ongoing US commitment to developing a 'two-way street' for defence procurement with both allied and friendly nations. This relationship building is ongoing, with about six active programs currently in play, with Australian companies providing value-added solutions across the maritime and undersea warfare, electronic warfare, ground vehicles and cyber and data security space, Col Creviston explained.
Applying companies should ensure that technologies present:
- Significant cost savings resulting in positive ROI;
- Significant performance enhancements;
- Significant schedule savings resulting in earlier fielded capability;
- Novel, innovative approaches;
- Connects foreign technologies to US DoD Development and acquisition programs; and
- Strengthens alliances by sourcing world-class solutions to shared defence problems through “two-way street” of defence procurement.
"Working with the Australian Defence Export Hub has been a great experience, the FCT provides great opportunity for us to collaborate more closely and field the key capabilities our warfighters need," Col Creviston said.
More information for businesses seeking to engage with the US FCT Program, including the product template and key contacts, is available here.