After some delay, the authorities at the Pentagon have finally approved production for the Army’s Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS). Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante comments gave the okay to move forward. This procession will facilitate the service’s progress on a core component of its air and missile defense upgrading efforts.
Indeed, the Army considers its IBCS the “command-and-control heart” of its air and missile defense infrastructure. Unfortunately, the program has been persistently hampered by technical setbacks. Specifically, the constant expansion of important capabilities and mission sets has dragged progress over the years.
Work on the IBCS commenced in 2009, but several hurdles prevented significant progress. This includes 2016’s calamitous limited user test that resulted in a full program reset. The Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E) described these as “deficiencies in the flight mission simulator/digital and launcher on the net tools” in its report for fiscal 2020. On that note, the Army finally restarted the IBCS program again in 2020 and considered it successful.
The second limited user test allowed the service to prepare IBCS for the initial operational test and evaluation. This necessary test concluded in late 2022, and DOT&E released its report this January. However, they do not plan to publish its final assessment for at least another year. Completion of this evaluation will be necessary for LaPlant to determine if IBCS capabilities are ready for full-scale production. In addition, the DOT&E also advised the Army to establish an integrated modeling and simulation suite for ongoing testing as the branch further experiments with the project.
In response to the announcement, primary contractor Northrop Grumman noted, “The full-rate production decision enables the US Army to set the fielding schedule for IBCS to operational air defense units.”
Furthermore, Northrop Grumman commented that this week’s decision should open the door for foreign military sales in the future. They cite Poland’s election to acquire IBCS to support its Patriot air defense system as a prime example. The unit hopes this will encourage more allies and partners to adopt the IBCS.