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Fox M93A1 Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Reconnaissance System (NBCRS)

The FOX is a rolling laboratory that takes air, water, and ground samples and immediately analyzes them for signs of weapons of mass destruction. The Fox M93A1 Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Reconnaissance System (NBCRS) is intended to improve the survivability and mobility of the Army ground forces by providing increased situational awareness and information superiority to headquarters and combat maneuver elements. With the ability to provide rapid, accurate chemical and radiological contamination information to these elements, the NBCRS vehicle forms a key portion of the full-dimensional protection concept.

The mission of the lightly-armored, wheeled NBCRS is to detect, identify, mark, sample, and report chemical and radiological contamination on the battlefield. The three-man NBCRS crew accomplishes these missions by using a sophisticated suite of nuclear and chemical alarms and detectors that have been integrated within the vehicle chassis. The on-board M21 Remote Sensing Chemical Agent Alarm allows the crew to detect chemical agent clouds as far as 5 kilometers away. The crew can perform chemical and radiological reconnaissance operations while operating in a shirt-sleeve environment inside the NBCRS vehicle, even while the vehicle is operating in a contaminated area. During normal vehicle operations, there is no need for the crew to wear chemical protective gear or masks.

NBC defense encompasses three major functions: contamination avoidance, protection, and decontamination. Contamination avoidance is the concept of avoiding contamination whenever possible and is the focal point of our NBC defense doctrine. It enables units to operate without incurring the degradation caused by individual or collective protection and time, labor, and logistics intensive decontamination operations. When it is not possible to avoid contamination, the spread of contamination is limited so that it presents the minimum possible hazard to personnel, has the minimum impact on operations, and allows the rapid resumption of normal operations. Contamination avoidance explicitly includes NBC reconnaissance, detection, sampling, identification, and warning. The NBCRS is a key system used to perform these functions.

Units and soldiers must be aware of NBC hazards within their area of concern. Both the presence and absence of NBC hazards is of interest. When NBC hazards are located, they must be marked on a near-real time basis. This allows units to avoid the hazard, or to protect themselves in order to minimize casualties if they cannot avoid it. Commanders must also be made aware of the absence of NBC hazards in their areas of immediate operational concern. This allows them to lower their protective posture and minimize degradation. Samples of unidentified contaminants must be collected and evacuated for laboratory analysis in order to maintain a current understanding of enemy capabilities and their impact.

In the Main Battle Area, the NBCRS supports the forces behind the direct fire battle. In the direct fire battle, lines between forces are indistinct and change rapidly. The enemy is unlikely to employ NBC weapons in this area to avoid their effects on its own units, and the battle is too intense and fast-moving for NBC reconnaissance to be effective in detecting contamination from previous strikes. Additionally, lightly armored systems such as the NBCRS are not very survivable in this area, and a low density, high payoff system like the NBCRS should not be put at such a risk.

Immediately behind the direct fire battle, the NBCRS supports AirLand Battle doctrine by enabling the unhindered forward or lateral movement of reserve and counter-attack units, thus enhancing the force’s agility, retaining depth, and preventing the disruption of synchronization. It gives the commander the ability to “see” the contaminated battlefield better than the enemy, providing him an advantage in seizing and keeping the initiative.

Further to the rear, the NBCRS supports the unhindered forward movement of reinforcing units, finds “clean” main supply routes, and supports the mobility of command and control and logistical organizations, further enhancing depth.

NBC contamination information collected by the NBCRS is provided to command and control systems in real time to aid in NBC battle management, allowing commanders to obtain the NBC picture and maintain the required operational tempo. NBC reconnaissance applies to low-intensity conflict situations to reduce vulnerability to insurgent and/or terrorist use of chemical or biological weapons. Forces will be provided an NBC threat assessment for potential theaters of operations. Forces deploy with and use a tailored force protection package for NBC defense. Surveillance/silent watch is conducted when the NBCRS locates at a given position for an extended period of time (hours) and uses its stand-off detection capabilities. In this role, the NBCRS is observing critical unoccupied terrain for evidence of NBC activity. Additionally, the NBCRS can augment existing detection capabilities and scan upwind of a unit, this is called unit defense. The objective of unit defense is to provide additional NBC warning time to high priority units. The emphasis is on the early detection of vapor hazards. During surveillance, such activities as sleeping, eating, and performing PMCS can be accomplished on a rotation basis between the crew.

The NBCRS detects and identifies nuclear and chemical contamination. It warns units of NBC contamination, reports the location of NBC hazards, marks areas of contamination, locates and marks clean bypass routes, and collects and transports samples of NBC materiel for later analysis. The NBCRS accomplishes these functions by performing the following missions: Generally, the NBCRS will move in 1000-meter intervals at an average speed of 20 KPH with short stops between moves. In some instances, the NBCRS will encounter enemy forces and must fire to cover its withdrawal. For each withdrawal, 30 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition and/or 12 rounds of smoke grenades will be shot.

The NBCRS will not require a new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) operator. Total number of authorized operators, maintainers, and supporters will not increase. The NBCRS will be operated by a crew of three MOS 54B NBC Specialists. One SC 14A Chemical Officer or one 54B NBC Specialist (Platoon Sergeant) will be the fourth crew member in two of six vehicles. Fielding of the NBCRS will create no new operator or maintainer MOS. However, the skills necessary to operate the NBCRS may require the creation of a new additional skill identifier (ASI) or require the addition of these skills to existing programs of instruction (POI). Operation of the NBCRS will require not more than three soldiers. Maintenance of NBCRS subsystems (detectors, navigational devices, etc.) will not require more than one soldier. Maintenance tasks to be performed on the NBCRS chassis will not exceed those associated with similar vehicles currently fielded to NBC reconnaissance units.

Because of the perceived need to quickly field a chemical reconnaissance vehicle to U.S. forces in Europe in the late 1980s, the NBCRS Non-Developmental Item (NDI) program consists of three acquisition phases: (1) Interim System Production (ISP) phase, which provided 48 urgently-needed German-produced vehicles (designated the XM93) that met many of the American requirements. As part of this phase, the German Government donated an additional 60 Americanized German XM93 vehicles to the U.S. Government in support of Operation Desert Storm; (2) System Improvement Phase (SIP), which provided vehicles (designated the XM93E1) that satisfied all American Requirements of Operational Capability; and (3) Block I modification phase, to upgrade all XM93 vehicles to the M93A1 configuration.

The XM93E1 NBCRS IOT&E was conducted from March-May 1994 at Fort Bliss Texas. DOT&E determined that, combined with chemical warfare agent test results from Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, the test was adequate, but the XM93E1 was neither operationally effective, nor operationally suitable. That assessment was based on the system demonstrating chemical warfare agent detection capabilities well below the requirement, the need for an excessive amount of maintenance, and low reliability. Crew performance indicated inadequate training and/or overly complex tasks.

The NBCRS TEMP was approved by the Director in December 1996. This TEMP includes plans for an operational limited user test (LUT) to be conducted in May 1998 as a part of Production Verification Testing (PVT) at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. The LUT will consist of two M93A1 configured NBCRS vehicles each completing two 96-hour scenarios at wartime operational tempo.

The XM93E1 NBCRS vehicle assessment of the 1994 IOT&E results was that the system was neither operationally effective nor suitable as indicated above. The Program Manager has applied numerous modifications to the XM93E1 NBCRS vehicle to deal with performance, maintainability, and reliability problems observed in previous testing, and has worked with the U.S. Army Chemical School to improve troop training on the vehicle. The upcoming LUT will provide the PM with the opportunity to demonstrate that these problems have been fixed, and that the vehicle is operationally effective and suitable.

The Block 1 improvement was initiated to meet the requirements of the approved Required Operational Capabilities document, to provide organic maintenance, and to reduce the crew size to three. The improvement also incorporates fixes from the Pre-Production Qualification Test and the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation that make the system more user friendly and improve maintainability.

To meet the requirements of the Required Operational Capabilities document, additional hardware was added to the FOX. A mount was developed for the M21 Alarm that allows 180-degree rotation and leveling. A meteorological sensor measures wind speed, direction, air and ground temperature, and relative humidity while the vehicle is stopped. A central computer integrates the sensors and, when there is an alarm, automatically formats an NBC4 report for transmission. After reviewing the message on the display, the vehicle commander digitally transmits it through the SINCGARS radio.

To enhance operation by the three-man crew, a global positioning system was provided for the commander and the driver. Warning lights for the M21 Alarm and the sampling wheels were added to the dashboard. A monitor is provided to the commander which displays, on command, either the MM-1 mass spectrometer's screen or the picture from the M21 Alarm's aiming camera. A monitor and keypad for the mass spectrometer were added at the rear seat for the surveyor, allowing operation of the mass spectrometer from either seat in the rear.

Technical manuals for the operator and organizational maintenance were developed and tested during the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation. We also negotiated an International Agreement with Germany to procure common spare and repair parts and depot overhaul of major assemblies. When the M93A1 FOX is fielded, contractor logistic support will be used for all supply support and maintenance above organizational level.

The M93A1 increases the operational effectiveness of the FOX system and will serve the Chemical Corps and the Army well into the next century. Significant cost savings will be realized in the reduced crew size and the elimination of contractor maintenance and supply support.

Army ACAT III Program
95 systems
Total program cost (TY$) $226M
Average unit cost (TY$) $2M
Full-rate Production 4QFY96

Prime Contractor
General Dynamics Land Systems
Thyssen Henschel (Germany)

Requirement Document: February 1991

NSN: 6665-01-372-1303

Block 1 Modification Type Classification: June 1995
Approved for production and fielding: FY95
Begin Production: FY96
New Materiel Release: FY98
First Unit Equipped: FY98

Basis of Issue:
6 per Heavy Division Chemical Company
6 per ACR Chemical Company
36 per Corps, TAACOM NBC Reconnaissance Company
1 per Separate Brigade

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike