The Northrop Grumman-developed Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) successfully demonstrated its ability to scale up and network across long distances during a recent US Army-led test.
The evaluation was conducted by U.S. Army soldiers over a five-week period with air and missile defense assets located at sites in New Mexico, Texas and Alabama.
“The ability of IBCS to integrate sensors and shooters over a vast area and grow the single integrated air picture offers huge advantages to air defenders and the joint forces,” said Dan Verwiel, vice president and general manager, missile defense and protective systems, Northrop Grumman. “This was demonstrated using an operationally realistic equipment laydown across several states and showed how IBCS is truly a force multiplier.
“This Soldier Checkout Event (SCOE) demonstrated the ability of IBCS to scale broadly. It further demonstrated IBCS’ robust network management technologies to efficiently and effectively maintain voice, data and video connectivity for the warfighter’s increasingly complex and challenging environment,” said Verwiel.
As part of SCOE 4.0, the multi-node distributed test examined IBCS’ scalability, resilience and performance under stressing threat conditions. The open-architecture IBCS networked more than 20 nodes across White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Redstone Arsenal, Alabama. Integrated to operate as a single system, the test involved nine IBCS engagement operations centers and 12 IBCS integrated fire control network relays, along with Sentinel short range air defense radars and Patriot radars, Patriot Advance Capability Two (PAC-2), PAC-3 and PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement interceptors.
The test required IBCS to virtually form an IAMD task force to defend four critical assets while tracking ‘red’ and ‘blue’ fighter aircraft, cruise missiles and tactical ballistic missiles. Multiple two-hour scenarios were run to check IBCS abilities, including: providing and managing a network to maintain voice, data and video connectivity; performing friend-or-foe identification of air objects and forming the single integrated air picture; and planning, executing and monitoring simulated threat engagements.
The test also included dynamically adding and removing nodes to confirm IBCS’ ability to self-configure as a mobile ad hoc network.
The IBCS-enabled enterprise system provides significant benefits over standalone, proprietary systems that merely ‘talk’ with each other. With IBCS, air and missile defense commanders can orchestrate forces over extensive distances using whatever means of communications that are available. Today, commanders are restricted by the proprietary and limited networks tied to the individual closed systems.
“Extensive testing has shown IBCS to be increasingly mature and its capabilities will be game-changers on the battlefield. IBCS delivers an unprecedented degree of integration to fill gaps in today’s air defenses while enabling multi-domain concepts such as affordably integrating unmanned or fifth generation fighter aircraft,” said Verwiel.
IBCS continues to validate the advantages of an open-systems, net-centric, enterprise approach to air and missile defense for getting capabilities to the warfighter that make a pivotal difference on the battlefield. Previous SCOE trials proved IBCS’ value for building a significantly more accurate integrated air picture and its effectiveness for countering electronic attacks.
The system has already demonstrated its ability to take out live targets, having conducted a successful intercept on its inaugural flight test and a more difficult “engage-on-remote” on its second flight test. During its third flight test, IBCS simultaneously intercepted two types of threats with two different interceptor types by providing command-and-control for sensors and weapons never designed to work with each other. Two more successful flight tests in support of the Indirect Fire Protection Capability were conducted with Sidewinder and Longbow Hellfire missiles. Both missiles were integrated into the system within a few short months.