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A multi-week test of the US Army’s battle command system expected to control air and missile defense shooters and sensors is underway following a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic. The test will determine if the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), the cornerstone of the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense modernization strategy, is ready to go to soldiers in the field for final testing.
IBCS allows the integration of sensors from the various systems onto the network in all of the various defended sectors, and it has a set of automated decision aids that enable soldiers to essentially select the best effector to defeat specific threats.
Northrop Grumman partnered with the US Army to develop IBCS. The operational test is being conducted at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in an operational environment. “It’s a full range of testing – hardware-in-the-loop, live air testing and two planned flight tests – and then it goes through what’s referred to as adversarial testing to determine if there are ways to potentially defeat the system,” said Bill Lamb, director, multi-domain mission command operating unit for Northrop Grumman.
When approved, the next phase involves low-rate initial production of hardware that will be fielded to a unit of the Army’s choice, and new equipment training for the soldiers.
The Army has indicated the timing of it being in use as early 2023.
IBCS is managed by the US Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space at Redstone Arsenal. The program is one of the Army’s six modernization priorities.
“It’s transformative as it will replace command-and-control over the long term for all of the Army’s air and missile defense systems,” Lamb said. “Think in terms of what the threats are today on the modern battlefield. Those threats to our Army forces range from rockets, artillery, and munitions that are flying low in the atmosphere, and now, increasingly, Unmanned Aerial Systems or drones, fast attack aircraft, cruise missiles flying low as well as theater ballistic missiles flying both inside and outside the atmosphere.”
The new system will give soldiers the tools to win a fight from the moment they hit the battlefield. Lamb said it will replace the stovepiped systems with a next-next-generation, net-centric approach to better address the evolving, complex threat. The system integrates disparate radars and weapons and delivers a single integrated air picture.
This way IBCS is creating composite tracks with unprecedented accuracy and broadens surveillance and protected areas. With its open systems architecture, IBCS allows the incorporation of current and future sensors and effectors and interoperability with the joint force and the ballistic missile defense system, according to theredstonerocket.com.