HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –The Army is set to announce a full-rate production (FRP) decision for Northrop Grumman’s [NOC] Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) on April 10 followed by a designation of initial operational capability around April 24, a lead official said Tuesday.

Brig. Gen. Frank Lozano, the Army’s program executive officer for missiles and space, confirmed the timeline updates during remarks Tuesday at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium here. 

IBCS equipment for Poland at Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Photo: Matthew Beinart.

During a media briefing on Monday at Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing facility here, where it builds IBCS, business development director Ian Reynolds said the company was anticipating the upcoming milestones “later this spring.” 

“We look forward to the FRP award upon that decision,” Reynolds told reporters. 

IBCS is the U.S. Army’s future missile defense command platform, designed to integrate and connect the service’s full range of “sensor to shooter” capabilities, with the service planning to field to the first unit by the end of FY ‘24.

The Army in December 2021 awarded Northrop Grumman a potential $1.4 billion deal for IBCS production, with the company currently in low-rate initial production (Defense Daily, Dec. 23 2021).

“As we’ve seen IBCS in use during the flight [tests] and in [Initial Operational Test and Evaluation] and such, it’s come to the realization that IBCS will literally transform how the U.S. Army fights. And it’ll do that by providing a common operating picture for the soldiers, an operating picture that is built through the fusion of fire control quality data from networked sensors,” Reynolds said. “It takes all of that data from multiple sensors and creates a more accurate, larger-coverage operating picture.”

The update on the Army’s timeline arrives as Poland, the first international customer for the system, is set to reach a base operational capability with IBCS by the end of the summer, according to Reynolds.

“It’s interesting but, notionally, the Poland [foreign military sale] case is maybe around two years in advance of [the U.S. Army]. But what we like to point out is the U.S. Army has gotten a substantial benefit from that,” Reynolds said. 

Poland signed on to become the first international IBCS operator after agreeing to a $4.75 billion deal with the U.S. in March 2018 to purchase the Patriot missile defense system along with the new Northrop Grumman-built battle command system in support of its WISLA air and missile defense modernization program (Defense Daily, March 28 2018).

A year later, the Army awarded Northrop Grumman a $713 million deal to produce IBCS for Poland, including IBCS engagement operations centers and integrated fire control network (IFCN) relays designed to deliver IBCS net-enabled command and control for four firing units (Defense Daily, March 15 2019).

Reporters on Monday saw three IFCN relays for Poland that were set to move out of the facility the next day, which is the last hardware equipment to be delivered under the current FMS case. 

“That will complete all of the hardware deliveries. And then we’ll continue to support them through training and logistics, sparing and maintenance. And as I mentioned, the hardware to date has all been delivered to the U.S. Army and is largely on Redstone Arsenal literally supporting training [of Polish soldiers] today,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said the Poland deal is part of a “fair amount” of international interest in IBCS, noting the company is offering the system for Australia’s AIR6500 competition and has had discussions with the U.K. and Japan about the capability. 

“With the unfortunate events going on in Ukraine, we’ve seen from our allies and partners an increase in their defense spending and, importantly and relevantly, an increase in the prioritization of air and missile defense for them. And one of their key concerns that we hear about frequently is they know that they will want to be able to fight side-by-side with the U.S. Army…and so having a system that can truly integrate with the U.S. is a real concern of theirs,” Reynolds said. “As you can imagine, a lot of our European NATO allies are sort of watching Poland to their success [with IBCS] and watching the U.S. program of record evolve.”

Reynolds also told reporters discussions have advanced on Poland’s interest in procuring three more battalions of IBCS systems in support of its NAREW short-range air defense modernization program and the second phase of WISLA (Defense Daily, Aug. 12 2022). 

“There have been several government-to-government meetings between Poland and the U.S. Army. So I don’t want to get too far ahead of the U.S. Army, but they are working toward signing a [letter of agreement] before the end of this year,” Reynolds said.