The Army’s future missile defense command platform has shown “improved reliability” in its most recent tests as the service looks to expand the system’s interoperability and range of sensors ahead of initial fielding by 2022, an official told reporters Monday.

Col. Philip Rottenborn, project manager for integrated air and missile defense, said the Army is evaluating earlier fielding options for its Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) platform based on the results of operation testing in 2020 and efforts to incorporate the Marine Corps’ Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar and the Air Force’s Three-Dimensional Expeditionary Long Range Radar (3DELRR).

A visualization of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS)

“The Army is currently prioritizing warfighter capabilities to bring onto the network.  Recent events have demonstrated the system’s open architecture through successful integration of sensors and weapons within months of strategy development,” Rottenborn said. “The Army will continue to look at the integration of legacy and developmental systems to meet emerging warfighter needs.”

Northrop Grumman [NOC] is delivering the IAMD Battle Command System (IBCS), the next-generation missile defense control network, and in October received a $289 million deal to provide hardware and software upgrades after a round of recent soldier evaluations (Defense Daily, Oct. 1).

Rottenborn said the Soldier Check-Out Events (COEs), which included multi-node distribution, external communication and live air tests, show IBCS’ “improved reliability” and provided the Army confidence in the system ahead of operational testing in 2020.

“The Soldier Check-Out Events (SCOEs) were very successful in demonstrating the linking and sharing of tactical data between sensors and shooters,” Rottenborn said. “IBCS successfully exchanged tracking, status, command data, and engagement data with joint aircraft. It also demonstrated the ability to maintain accurate global tracks in a contested environment.”

Developmental testing for IBCS is scheduled for 2019, with a Milestone C decision set for 2020.

Rottenborn said the Army’s push to integrate a greater range of sensors with the system could allow for the program to reach initial operational capability before its 2022 target date.

“Army ownership of the interface control document enables integration of legacy and developmental systems to meet emerging warfighter needs. No other air and missile defense system has demonstrated this level of flexibility,” Rottenborn said.

The baseline IBCS program incorporates Patriots radars and launcher with Sentinel radars, while the service will look to expand with the Marine Corps’ G/ATOR system and has started integrating with the Air Force’s 3DLERR.

“The open architecture enables the Army to prioritize requirements beyond the initial baseline, and the program’s agile development approach facilitates rapid integration of those requirements,” Rottenborn said.

IBCS has also demonstrated improved Link 16 tactical network connectivity with Army, Navy and Air Force data assets, according to Rottenborn.

Northrop Grumman’s IBCS is intended to replace engagement control stations on Patriot missile defense systems, and integrate targeting data its range of missile detection sensors against threats including theater ballistic missiles, air breathing threats, cruise missiles and drones.

“[The system] integrates Army and joint sensors and weapons across a modular open systems architecture, which provides a single, integrated air picture to the warfighter and allows the Army to not only see more threats, but to kill them faster and more effectively,” Rottenborn said.