HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – An Army official last week laid out how the Army’s test plan for its new command and control system is set up to be ready to deploy systems to Guam later this decade.
The Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), built by
Northrop Grumman [NOC], was approved for full-rate production in April (Defense Daily, April 12).
Then, in May, the company announced IBCS achieved its initial operational capability (IOC), showing it meets objective capabilities required and was ready to be fielded to the Army for further system development (Defense Daily, May 1).
IBCS will be the Army’s newest missile defense command platform and is designed to integrate various sensors and shooters. The Army’s 343rd Field Artillery Battalion will be the first unit to receive, test and field the IBCS by the end of FY ‘24.
“So 343 has the system currently. We’re going through an upgrade to an [Low-Rate Initial Production, LRIP] version of the system where we’re upgrading both hardware and software, and 343 will be the first unit in the Army to receive that equipment in fourth quarter FY ‘24. The plan after that is to get on a two battalion per year cadence. So starting in ‘25, we will be filling two IBCS-enabled Patriot battalions every year,” Col. Chris Hill, Project Manager, Integrated Fires Mission Command within U.S. Army PEO Missiles and Space, told reporters during an Aug. 7 visit here at Northrop Grumman’s final assembly facility here ahead of the Space and Missile Defense Symposium.
Hill underscored the PEO is using an Integrated Fires Test Campaign (IFTC) to incrementally integrate new sensors and shooters to IBCS, including the Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTADMS), Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IFPC) Increment 2 launchers, Army Long Range Persistent Surveillance (ALPS), Sentinel A3 radar, Sentinel A4 radar and Remote Interceptor Guidance-350 (RIG-360).
“We don’t provide an IBCS to the warfighter. IBCS is a C2 system. So for the Integrated Fires Test event, we’re looking at one operational test, where you have IBCS, you have LTAMDS, you have IFPC. That all will be tested during the same amount of time. So why are we doing that? The reason we’re doing that is because in FY ‘27, we have defense of Guam that’s sitting out there,” he said.
DoD has said it plans to have completed a command center with enhanced integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) capability with the IBCS by 2027, with tentative 2029 activation of an integrated battle management capability with IAMD.
Hill confirmed this means by FY ‘27 the Army plans to integrate LTAMDS, IFPC, ALPS, Sentinel A3, Sentinel A4 an RIG-360 into IBCS for use on Guam.
Last year the Missile Defense Agency announced the Guam air and missile defense architecture Guam will be based around mobile versions of the Aegis Combat System, RTX [RTX] Standard Missile (SM)-3 and SM-6 missiles, IBCS, LTAMDS and Sentinel radars while also maintaining the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system battery already deployed on Guam (Defense Daily, March 29, 2022).
The first set of Guam systems is scheduled to arrive in 2024, including new AN/TPY-6 radars using the same technology as the Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Space Force Base, Alaska.
Until the Army receives the first full IBCS unit in late 2024, the Northrop Grumman is making software and hardware changes to the LRIP IBCS version. IBCS and the unit will go through developmental testing, new equipment fielding, new equipment testing, collective training and ending with an operational test event.
“So fourth quarter ‘24 is not far away,” Hill said.
While the operational test event will occur at the end of the 2024 calendar year, the 343rd Field Artillery Battalion is considered trained and fielded after finishing the collective training, he said.
Hill also said every year the Army will have a qualifying event that allows them to get IBCS and these systems on the range, and that only comes after they have conducted tests of developmental testing.
“So we have it IFTC ‘24, ‘25, ‘26 and then defense of Guam.”
He confirmed that this year’s IFTC, for FY 2023, is testing IBCS and LTADMS before it moves on to IFPC launchers in 2024.
Ultimately, by fiscal year 2027, “LTAMDS should come on board. And from an integrated fire standpoint, that’s when I would consider a battalion fully modernized. Once we have IBCS and LTAMDS integrated into that formation,” Hill said.