The Army’s open architecture missile defense brain recently demonstrated its ability to track and defend against an array of aerial threats during the most complex test of the system to date.

Soldiers from Fort Sill, Okla., used Northrop Grumman’s [NOC] Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS), to direct Army air and missile defense sensors and weapons to conduct complex, multi-domain air defense operations as part of a higher-echelon joint task force with the Marine Corps.

Following an initial phase of the IBCS Soldier Checkout Event (SCOE) development test in August, the second phase was a live-air exercise over three weeks in October at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. IBCS already demonstrated its ability to detect, identify and track multiple ballistic missiles at a time.

During the recent test, IBCS was able to pull data from Army and Marine Corps air and ground sensors to create a single integrated “air picture.” It was able to identify a dozen platforms as either friend or foe, including unmanned systems, fighter jets, attack helicopters, tankers, early warning aircraft, tiltrotors and electronic attack platforms.

“The preliminary analysis indicates all test objectives were accomplished,” said Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager of missile defense and protective systems at Northrop Grumman. “In an operational environment that included electronic attack, we showed the value of IBCS to resolve ambiguity in the air picture and deliver more accurate target tracking data to support joint integrated air and missile defense.”

IBCS forms the central nervous system of the Army’s battlefield air defense system and allows for plug-and-play interoperability with various sensors and weapons so that the system can be tailored to a specific threat profile. It is designed to replace and consolidate seven legacy command-and-control (C2) systems to a single, common operating system that provides a comprehensive view of an air-defense network, rather than simply linking them. Its open systems architecture design will allow IBCS to integrate current and future sensors and weapon systems and to seamlessly operate with joint C2 and the ballistic missile defense system.

Various legacy ground-based air defense radars can be linked through IBCS to most of the missiles in the Army’s arsenal, which gives commanders the option of responding to incoming threats with the appropriate kill vehicle. Patriot, the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missile, the Aegis system and Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) all are candidates.

By integrating sensors and interceptors, IBCS provides wider area surveillance and broader protection areas. Northrop is building IBCS as a “truly open systems architecture,” allowing integration of both current and future sensors and weapon systems as well as interoperability with joint C2 and the ballistic missile defense system.