Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS), developed in partnership with the US Army, has received authorisation to proceed with low-rate initial production (LRIP) following a successful Milestone C decision for the program.
This milestone, approved by the US Department of Defense, represents a critical next step in moving the program closer to future deployment. Northrop Grumman has produced and delivered major end items to the Army, including Engagement Operations Centers (EOC) and Integrated Fire Control Network relays (IFCN), that have been used by soldiers in highly successful, operationally realistic flight tests.
“The decision by our senior leaders to transition IBCS from development into initial production reflects their confidence in the maturity of the system and its readiness for operational testing to inform Initial Operational Capability,” said Maj. Gen. Rob Rasch, Army Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space. “The soldiers of the 3-43 Air Defense Artillery Battalion performed tremendously in training and testing over the last year, and are poised to demonstrate the game-changing capabilities of IBCS next Fall during the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation.”
To achieve Milestone C, Northrop Grumman worked in partnership with the US Army’s Integrated Fires Mission Command Program Office in the system engineering, design, development and testing of IBCS hardware and software. Since 2015, the program has executed seven successful flight tests conducted under complex and operationally realistic conditions, demonstrating new game changing capabilities that the system will deliver upon fielding.
Chris Deeble, CEO of Northrop Grumman Australia, said “on 18 December 2020, the United States Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, Ellen Lord, approved the US Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS) program to proceed from Engineering Manufacturing Development to Low Rate Initial production. This is a critical milestone for the US Army and the IBCS program.
“IBCS enables ‘any sensor/best effector’ multi domain operations, something that the ADF has been focused on for some time,” Deeble said.
IBCS is a pathfinder toward the US’s vision of a ‘Joint Force’ based on Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2). The architecture and systems capabilities being developed as part of IBCS are likely to be interest to the Australian Defence Force as they progress with key multi-domain programs such as AIR 6500. Like IBCS, Air 6500 will require exquisite systems integration including: software and hardware design and development; and extensive planning and execution of critical development and operational tests. Like IBCS, Air 6500 will require the integration of multiple air and ground systems. The lessons learnt by the US Army and Northrop Grumman with IBCS could greatly assist the ADF as they plan for AIR 6500.
Most recently, IBCS underwent a Limited User Test that included testing of an operational Air and Missile Defense Battalion Task Force and featured two operational flight tests, which culminated in successful intercepts of complex, threat representative cruise and ballistic missile targets. Over its development life cycle, IBCS has undergone extensive hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL), environmental, live fire, and developmental testing and has participated in numerous Joint and U.S. Army exercises. These tests and exercises along with soldier touch-points have provided excellent feedback and data to drive significant performance improvements throughout the development phase of the IBCS program to inform the Milestone C decision.
IBCS is the centrepiece of the US Army’s modernisation strategy for air and missile defence to address the ever-changing nature of warfare. Designed to connect the force for unified action across all domains against evolving threats, IBCS is a software-defined, network-enabled command and control system that integrates and optimises “any-sensor, best-effector” toward enabling Joint Multi-domain Operations and command and control.
Built on a modular and open systems approach network, IBCS employs a net-centric integrated fire control network that enables the acquisition, identification and engagement of air and missile threats. IBCS enhances battlefield survivability by creating a resilient self-healing network that can reduce and eliminate vectors of attack while providing commanders and operators with a single integrated air picture of unprecedented breadth, range and accuracy.
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