The Army said Thursday it has chosen a contractor team of Boeing Co. (BA) and Science Applications International Corp. to lead initial development of a new weapons system, dubbed the "future combat system," that is at the heart of the Army's effort to become lighter and more mobile. 

Subject to negotiation, the Boeing-SAIC team will receive a $154 million contract for the 16-month project. 

They will develop performance specifications, evaluate potential concepts and technologies, conduct demonstrations and select the most promising approaches for the next phase of the "future combat system" project. 

The Army hopes to develop and put into the field within 10 years a network of weaponry that would transform land warfare by making U.S. forces more versatile, mobile, survivable and lethal. It may include vehicles that replace today's tanks and other tracked vehicles, and it may include unmanned land or aerial vehicles for surveillance and target acquisition. Together the vehicles would conduct assault missions, air defense and other tasks with an efficiency and speed not possible with today's weaponry. 

The program is a joint effort by the Army and the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. 

Once the Boeing-SAIC team finishes its 16 months of work, the Army and DARPA will award a separate contract for the next pre-production phase of the program. Other companies are expected to compete for that contract.