By Ann Roosevelt

Open architecture is key to the Northrop Grumman [NOC] team bid for prime contractor in the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) competition to be awarded this summer, a company official said.

"We’ve got to get rid of service, proprietary solutions…that’ s a huge step forward in this whole idea of netcentric operations," Rob Jassey, director of Integrated Air and Missile Defense Programs, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, said in a teleconference June 9.

"We really see this program as a stepping stone for the future…to the joint environment warfighters are looking for."

Under IBCS, the winning team will establish a network-centric system-of-systems solution for integrating sensors, shooters, and battle management, command, control, communications and intelligence systems for Army air and missile defense.

Two companies will be awarded contracts in August for the first phase of the work, Dan O’Boyle, Air and Missile Defense Life Cycle Command spokesman told Defense Daily. Each contract will have a not-to-exceed value of $15 million.

The newly integrated system would allow warfighters to move closer to the goal of pairing any sensor with any shooter to prosecute the target via an integrated fire control network, Jassey said.

The system would incorporate current systems such as Patriot, Sentinel radar, SLAAMRAM, and JLENS, and would add future systems such as THAAD and MEADS as they are fielded.

"Open architecture is a fundamental requirement here," Jassey said, and proposals required an open architecture management plan.

This also allows smaller companies to become involved in a major project, he said. "We’re going to do best-of-breed analysis. We’re going to create an architecture, and you company–A, B, C, D, E, come with your tool."

As long as the tool meets the requirement, it will be evaluated in the process of looking for the best, he said. Warfighters today want integrated solutions, he said, and they want tools to work together.

In mid April, Northrop Grumman submitted its bid for the prime role in the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) competition. The team includes Boeing [BA], Lockheed Martin [LMT], Harris [HRS], Schafer Corp., Torch Systems LLC, Numerica Corp., Applied Data Trends, COLSA Corp., Space and Missile Defense Technologies LLC, CohesionForce Inc., Millennium Engineering and Integration Co., RhinoCorps, Ltd. Co., and Tobyhanna Army Depot.

Northrop Grumman faces competition from a Raytheon [RTN]-led team with members including General Dynamics [GD], Carlson Technology, IBM [IBM], Teledyne Brown Engineering [TDY] and Davidson Technologies.

"It’s about integration, that’s why Northrop Grumman is excited, Jassey said.

This will not make a service-stovepipe system, Jassey said. The Army is building the Joint Architecture Working Group-compliant Joint Track Manager, which is the software that will manage the air picture. The Navy and Air Force would use the same algorithms and architecture so they could be integrated with the Army.

The program is managed by the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Program Office, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space in Huntsville, Ala.

Northrop Grumman is a leading provider of command and control and battle management systems across DoD, prime contractor on the Air and Missile Defense Workstation (AMDWS), a decision dominance system used successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan; the Air Defense Airspace Management cell resident at every Brigade Combat Team, Division and Corps, integrating the common activities of air defense and aviation.

Northrop expertise in systems engineering and integration comes from fielding the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system to support the IBCS effort. In February, Northrop Grumman was one of two companies awarded an Army contract for the Extended Area Protection and Survivability Integrated Demonstration program.

In missile defense, Northrop Grumman is developing the highly successful fire control and launch control equipment software; is the prime contractor at the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center, and leads the industry team developing and testing the Kinetic Energy Interceptor system, and is prime contractor for the Space Tracking and Surveillance Program.

Additionally in support of the Army in its pursuit of an integrated battle command system, Northrop Grumman established a four year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Forces Strategic Command to extend and improve the existing integrated air and missile defense command system capabilities.