The Army and Northrop Grumman [NOC] recently said they successfully demonstrated a warfighter-focused, net-centric battle command system for integrated air and missile defense (IAMD).

“The demo was a significant risk reduction activity for us in the program, providing us with a snapshot of where we stood with development,” Mike Achord, deputy project manager, Army Integrated Air and Missile Defense Project Office, said in a recent interview.

The Oct. 24-Nov.-8 Army demonstration held at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., used Northrop Grumman’s IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS) software and hardware components to highlight critical capabilities tied to Army objectives. Key objectives include demonstrating the IBCS tactical air defense planner and the IBCS graphical user interface (GUI).

"With IBCS, Northrop Grumman aims to deliver a common battle command system for all Army air defense components to help save lives and reduce system lifecycle costs," said Linnie Haynesworth, vice president and general manager of federal and defense technologies division for Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

"The successful demonstration is important progress and we’re pleased our open architecture, any sensor-any shooter IBCS operated as planned and performed flawlessly,” Haynesworth said in a statement.

The IBCS tactical air defense planner is intended to replace the seven disparate, currently fielded planning tools air defenders use to determine how to optimize sensors and weapon systems to best protect assets.

The IBCS GUI, known as the common warfighter machine interface, takes advantage of gaming industry advancements to intuitively enable mission command decisions.

The point is to move to a system focusing on the data and the incorporation of different sensors and shooters, so a commander focuses on how to accomplish a mission, rather than focusing solely on the command and control of one platform or one sensor. It broadens the options available to the operating force. 

"The soldiers I spoke with clearly want IBCS today," said Brig. Gen. Neil Thurgood, program executive officer, Missiles and Space, Redstone Arsenal, Ala. "This very successful demonstration marks a significant event in the history of not only the IBCS program, but also the future path and war fighting doctrine of our Army."

IBCS was operated by soldiers from the 108th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the First Armored Division in the IAMD demonstration.

"Soldiers were able to get their hands on the system for the first time," said Col. Robert Rasch, project manager, Army IAMD Project Office. "Operational warfighters were able to see the force multiplier of using common command and control for an integrated air and missile defense capability."

The Army IAMD demonstration included two tactical integrated fire control network relays and three dismounted relays that let IBCS interface with remote weapons and sensors. The demonstration also used three tactical air defense engagement operations centers housing the IBCS computers and radios and necessary environmental control and power components.

In the live phase of the demonstration, there were targets in the air, management data was passed across the network and a Patriot Weapon System simulation was used with tactical ballistic missile and cruise missile targets injected into the scenario, Achord said.

The Army’s Sentinel radar was also connected, which demonstrated the ability to take its tracking data and put it in the network so ICBS could use that data as well, he said.

“We’ve gone from the power point phase to actual hardware you could actually touch, feel, and operate,” Rob Jassey, deputy program director, IAMD Battle Command System, Northrop Grumman, said. The demonstration was “a tremendous opportunity for us, the industry/government team to see the entire vision laid out.”

In addition to showcasing capabilities, the IAMD demonstration served as the mechanism to execute detailed test plans, procedures, processes and data collection plans for upcoming developmental and operational testing. Furthermore, Northrop Grumman and the Army collected significant feedback for the iterative prototyping and user assessment cycles of the IBCS warfighter-centered development process.

Scheduled for late 2014 is development testing of the IBCS engagement operations centers, tactical integrated fire control network relays with net-enabled air and missile defense sensors and weapons to conduct engagements against multiple threats. These tests will be done at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

The program is scheduled to go into low-rate initial production in 2016 with fielding to begin in 2017.

IBCS  Demonstration    Photo: U.S. Army

The IBCS program grew from analysis of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom operations that put improving mission command as a top priority. By implementing an open, network-centric, system-of-systems solution, IBCS optimizes battle management command and control and significantly improves cost effectiveness and flexibility, the company said.

IBCS uses an enterprise, plug-and-fight approach to ensure that current and future sensors and weapon systems can be easily incorporated, allowing warfighters to take advantage of integrated Army and joint capabilities.

Jassey said the open standards approach, with non-proprietary, government-owned interfaces means the system can seamlessly integrate joint systems’ components or networks.

The IBCS program also focuses on warfighter decision processes and tools to ensure intuitive situational understanding for time-critical engagements.

Northrop Grumman leads a team that includes Boeing [BA], Lockheed Martin [LMT], Harris [HRS], Schafer Corp., Numerica Corp., Colsa Corp., Cummings Aerospace Inc., EpiQ Inc., nLogic, Cohesion Force Inc., Instrumental Sciences Inc., Intelligent Research Inc., 4M Research Inc., RhinoCorps, Space and Mission Defense Technologies, Tobyhanna Army Depot, Sparta, and Qtec Inc.