The Army and Northrop Grumman [NOC] on Thursday destroyed a ballistic missile using the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) in its first flight test, according to a company statement.

The flight test took place when a ballistic missile serving as a threat surrogate flew against a defended asset. The defense consisted of battery and battalion IBCS operations centers, a Patriot radar and two adapted Patriot launchers connected at the component level to the IBCS integrated fire control network.

Screen shots from the Army's Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Control System (IBCS) test. Photos: Army.
Screen shots from the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Control System (IBCS) test. Photos: Army.

Using measurement data from the Patriot radar, the IBCS track manager established a composite track on the ballistic missile. The IBCS mission control software assessed the track as a threat and presented an engagement solution. The engagement operations center then commanded, via the IBCS mission control software, launches of two Patriot PAC-2 interceptor missiles to destroy the target. The PAC-2, developed by Raytheon [RTN], is a one-stage, solid fuel, ground launched interceptor that operates between 1.5 and 20 miles altitude and a range in excess of 60 miles.

Northrop Grumman called the successful intercept a significant step toward the objective for integrated air and missile defense.

“Today’s successful intercept test demonstrated the power of IBCS to conduct net-centric engagements with componentized sensors and launchers,” Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager for integrated air and missile defense at Northrop Grumman, said in a company statement.

The Army designated IAMD a major defense acquisition program (MDAP), according to a budget justification book. The service requested $214 million in fiscal year 2016 for the program and expects to request roughly $583 million from FY ’17 through FY ’20. The Army expects initial operational capability (IOC) in FY ’18.

Army spokesman Dan O’Boyle said in an email that Thursday’s test was the initial development flight test in the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the Army IAMD program. The primary objective of Thursday’s test, O’Boyle said, was to demonstrate the IBCS engagement operations functionality of the IBCS engagement operations center, the integrated fire control network and adapted Patriot equipment, including radar, launcher and radar interface unit.

Verweil said via a spokeswoman that Northrop Grumman, in its next steps, will continue to develop IBCS based on the requirements and timeline defined by the Army. Future flight tests, Verweil said, will add PAC-3 interceptors and sentinel radars to further stress the system and network. Verweil said there are a series of flight tests that will occur over the next year, leading to a limited user test in the spring of 2016 and Milestone C in late summer 2016. O’Boyle said the next three flight tests will take place over the next two years.

Verweil said IBCS will integrate on one secure network all air and missile defense sensors and shooters. IBCS, he said, will be the one command and control (C2) system across all of air defense, replacing seven different C2 systems existing today.

Verweil said componentized sensors and launchers are important because componentization involves putting each individual system (component), radar and launcher with missiles onto one common network. In this network, he said, IBCS can direct the best missile/launcher to fire from all available sensor data. This ensures a minimized single point of failure, Verweil said, and allows the Army to optimize its radars and missiles against the treats it faces both today and in the future.

Verweil said IBCS will also allow the Army to securely rely on disparate sensors to provide reliable data to identify a threat early and assign any appropriate weapon to effectively engage a target. The Army, he said, will be able to engage a weapon using a sensor that may not have previously worked with that weapon.

The Army calls for a transformation to a network-centric IAMD capability that integrates all air and missile defense (AMD) sensors, weapons and mission command. This future architecture will enable the distributed support of engagements with available sensor assets not limited to system-centric organic sensors.

The Army said its IAMD program is uniquely structured to enable the development of an overarching system of systems capability with all participating air defense artillery components functioning interdependently to provide total operational capabilities not achievable by the individual system elements. This is unlike traditional acquisition programs that focus primarily on the development of a single system or platform.

The Army achieves this objective by establishing the IAMD architecture and developing the IBCS engagement operations center that provides: a common mission command capability, the integrated fire control network capability for fire control connectivity and enabling distributed operations and the common plug and fight kits that will enable multiple sensor components, weapon components and the IBCS.