The Army completed another successful exercise with its future open architecture missile defense command system, built by Northrop Grumman [NOC], testing the system’s ability engage an array of aircraft and cruise missile threats as the platform moves closer toward eventual fielding, the company said on Wednesday. 

During the three-week exercise, held in April and May at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the Army evaluated hardware and software components of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) while testing the system’s data sensor integration capabilities against simulated aerial threats.

A visualization of Northrop Grumman's Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS)
A visualization of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS)

“IBCS continues to show high levels of performance and reliability. As the command-and-control backbone of the Army’s future air and missile defense enterprise, IBCS will undergo increasingly complex tests as it works through development and prepares for operational fielding in the future,” Dan Verwiel, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s missile defense and protective systems, said in a statement.

Northrop Grumman’s IBCS has been selected as the future command system intended to replace the engagement control stations on Patriot missile defense systems. The new battle command system is intended to consolidate seven legacy command and control systems into one common architecture that combines data from a wider range of sensors.

A Northrop Grumman official told Defense Daily testing will continue as IBCS moves closer toward fielding, with a focus on collecting more user feedback and continuous development to meet increasingly complex threats.

The Army tested 20 major IBCS hardware and software components during the latest exercise, according to Northrop Grumman, including the system’s engagement operations centers and integrated fire control network relays.

The latest exercise used F-15, F-16s and C-12 aircraft to simulate adversary threats, with IBCS used to practice simultaneous engagement of multiple aerial threats.

Officials also tested the system’s ability to integrate Link 16 tactical data and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) air traffic management networks, while also creating a joint single integrated air picture.

“IBCS makes legacy systems relevant for today, and provides a path for the next-generation of IAMD that is affordable. Continued testing with Army soldiers in realistic environments is the best way to ensure IBCS and the wider Army IAMD architecture is ready to meet the operational needs of the warfighter,” Bill Lamb, Northrop Grumman’s director for integrated air and missile defense, said in a statement.  

The tests demonstrated the system’s open architecture capabilities that Northrop Grumman officials said would allow the Army to ‘plug and fight’ with next-generation sensors to defend against changing threats to offer ‘any-sensor, best-shooter operations.”

“In a dynamic and changing environment, taking advantage of the open, non-proprietary, configurable nature of an IAMD enterprise is imperative for enabling warfighter capabilities to outpace threats and allowing for the addition of capabilities not previously planned at a much reduced cost,” Lamb said.

The Army previously completed a five-week long multi-node distributed test in March and April to demonstrate IBCS’ scalability (Defense Daily, August 15).

Poland will also become the first international IBCS operator after signing a $4.75 billion deal earlier this year to purchase a Patriot missile defense system with Northrop Grumman’s battle command system (Defense Daily, March 28).