The U.S. Army has engaged multiple targets during two flight tests using Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Integrated Battle Command System. The tests demonstrate the command system’s ability to continuously track and engage targets, despite environmental conditions, by fusing data from multiple sensors.
Northrop Grumman’s IBCS is headquartered in Huntsville, where the majority of the Agile software development, manufacturing of the hardware, the system’s overall design and management are conducted. More than 500 of Northrop Grumman’s approximately 2,000 employees in Huntsville are involved in the IBCS work.
“We are extremely pleased with how IBCS performed during this flight test,” said Kenn Todorov, vice president and general manager, combat systems and mission readiness, Northrop Grumman. “We have been working on an extraordinary command and control system in partnership with the U.S. Army, and our goals are the same — to get this capability into the hands of the warfighter as soon as possible.”
Both planned operational tests were conducted at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico by soldiers from the U.S. Army 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment. The tests’ defense included two battery and one battalion engagement operations centers and two Patriot and Sentinel radars. For the first test, the soldiers used three Patriot Advanced Capability Three (PAC-3) launchers connected at the component level to the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN). For the second test, the soldiers had launchers with a mixture of PAC-2, PAC-3 and Missile Segment Enhanced (MSE) interceptors connected to the IFCN.
The first test began when two cruise missile surrogate threats were launched and flew at low altitude in a formation through a mountain range towards defended assets. IBCS compiled real-time data from all sensors into a single, accurate composite track for each threat, presenting the engagement solutions to soldiers, who launched two PAC-3 missiles controlled by IBCS to intercept the threats. The program was able to perform all functions successfully despite being subjected to contested environment conditions designed to disrupt the IFCN network.
The second test commenced when target missiles were launched from different points towards the Army defenders. The tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target was fired far from the missile range and traveled on a ballistic trajectory while the cruise missile surrogate flew a low-altitude course. The IBCS integrated the data to form a single uninterrupted composite track of each threat, which then informed engagement solutions with the best interceptors to engage both incoming threats. The soldiers then launched a PAC-2 to intercept the cruise missile and a PAC-3 to intercept the TBM. Both targets were intercepted.
These Limited User Tests were intended to simulate realistic conditions, ensuring the IBCS would perform as intended under rigorous circumstances. These tests move the IBCS a step closer to Milestone C, which will transition the IBCS program into the production and fielding phases.
“We need this weapon system in order to maintain a technological advantage in the future,” said Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy during a recent visit to Northrop Grumman’s Huntsville manufacturing facility.
The IBCS is the centerpiece of the Army’s modernization strategy for air and missile defense to address the changing battlefield.