The U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman team continues to show how the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) is a paradigm-shifting system of systems for air and missile defense. A ballistic missile was destroyed using the IBCS in its first flight test and the second flight test demonstrated unprecedented engagement on combined track data from dissimilar radars. The revolutionary IBCS will deliver a single, unambiguous view of the battlespace to improve the ability of combatant commanders and air defenders to make critical decisions within seconds. With its truly open systems architecture, IBCS enables integration of current and future sensors and weapon systems and interoperability with joint C2 and the ballistic missile defense system.
The Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) has passed another communication system test, with the next step being to measure how the equipment responds to various environmental conditions and terrains. According to Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor on the project, the external communications test took place in May and June. With a mixture of live and simulated air-and-missile defense assets, the external communications test demonstrated IBCS’ ability to transmit voice and data communications between multiple operation centers and fire control network relays.
This test follows the announcement of a recent $289 million contract modification for the program after a string of successful tests dating back to 2015. In these tests, IBCS has linked together Sentinel short-range air defense radars, Patriot air-and-missile defense radars, and Patriot Advanced Capability 2 (PAC-2), PAC-3 and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors. In total, five IBCS-engagement operations centers and five IBCS fire control relays dispersed between White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico; Tobin Wells Training Area Tactical Systems Integration Lab in Fort Bliss, Texas; and the Government System Integration Laboratory at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, participated in the exercise.
The Army now plans to take the system’s hardware and put it through a complete range of developmental tests, measuring how the equipment responds to various environmental conditions and terrains to replicate stresses the system can be expected to endure over it’s service life. Following these tests, Northrop anticipates a flight test in the third quarter of 2018 that will lead to an operational test in the first quarter of 2020. Depending on the data the Army gets out of these tests, it could make the decision to go into low rate initial production. This comes after schedule slips, which have been partly due to the service expanding the mission for the command-and-control system beyond what was originally intended.