Evaluation of Future ‘System of Systems’
During three weeks of testing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico earlier this year, the US Army led a series of intensive assessments of the capabilities of Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS).
IBCS continued to validate its enterprise-level approach to air and missile defence by digesting complex information to target a series of representative aerial threats. This demonstration built upon the earlier multi-node distributed test, in which IBCS showed that it can scale up and network across long distances.
In the live air test, IBCS demonstrated its ability to combine data from sensors and multiple information sources to accomplish simulated engagements of both real and simulated fixed- and rotary-wing, cruise missile and tactical ballistic missile targets. Military aircraft such as F-15 and F-16 fighters and the slower-moving C-12 turboprop were used as surrogates, replicating the flight patterns of adversary threats.
The test was designed to evaluate various hardware and software functions of the Army’s future IAMD ‘system of systems,’ of which IBCS forms the centrepiece. Twenty major IBCS components were involved in the trial, including IBCS engagement operations centres and integrated fire control network relays.
The test had a number of key objectives, including: the exercise of launcher and sensor controls in a live environment; conduct of simultaneous simulated engagements of multiple aerial targets; integration with the Link 16 tactical data and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast air traffic management networks; and contribution to the joint single integrated air picture.
The ‘plug and fight’ architecture of IBCS provides a highly integrated next-generation air and missile defence solution to the Army. It enables ‘any-sensor, best-shooter’ operations with a greatly expanded single integrated air picture.
“In a dynamic and changing environment, taking advantage of the open, non-proprietary, configurable nature of an IAMD enterprise is imperative for enabling warfighter capabilities to outpace threats and allowing for the addition of capabilities not previously planned at a much reduced cost,” commented Northrop Grumman’s Director, Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Bill Lamb. “IBCS makes legacy systems relevant for today, and provides a path for the next-generation of IAMD that is affordable. Continued testing with Army soldiers in realistic environments is the best way to ensure IBCS and the wider Army IAMD architecture is ready to meet the operational needs of the warfighter.”
IBCS is also the air and missile defence command and control solution of choice for Poland, which signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance with the US government in March to become the first international operator of the system.