The U.S. Army successfully intercepted a high-performance, high-speed tactical ballistic missile (TMB) target and a cruise missile target using the Northrop Grumman Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) on a recent test flight.
These target missiles were second of the two live-fire tests during the Army’s IBCS Limited User Test (LUT) at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. These tests demonstrate the system’s ability to acquire, track, identify and engage diverse targets from various locations, speeds and altitudes.
The IBCS is the centerpiece of the U.S. Army’s modernization strategy for air and missile defense to address the ever changing battlefield. IBCS enables revolutionary and battle survivable “any-sensor, best-effector” operations. This is accomplished by fusing information from multiple, disparate sensors to create a single integrated air picture; and employing all available effectors to defeat advancing threats.
“These two back-to-back successful test events are a testament to the commitment and partnership between the great men and women of the Army’s operational and acquisition communities and Northrop Grumman’s program team. We are committed to the mission of the U.S. Army and look forward to continuing that partnership in getting the game-changing IBCS capability into production and fielded,” said Kenn Todorov, Vice President and General Manager, Combat Systems and Mission Readiness at Northrop Grumman.
Similar to the first LUT flight test, the second test was conducted by soldiers from the U.S. Army 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Regiment. Their defense consisted of two battery and one battalion IBCS engagement operations centers, two Patriot and two Sentinel radars, and four Launchers with a mixture of Patriot Advanced Capability Two (PAC-2), Patriot Advanced Capability Three (PAC-3), and Missile Segment Enhanced (MSE) interceptors connected to the IBCS Integrated Fire Control Network (IFCN).
Maj. Gen. Rob Rasch, Army Program Executive Officer, Missiles and Space, shared his thoughts on the successful execution of this exercise.
“First, I would like to recognize how exceptionally proud I am of the soldiers of the 3-43 ADA Battalion. This formation’s laser focus and steadfast dedication, starting with New Equipment Training last year through this Limited User Test live fire, will ultimately transform the Air and Missile Defense fight for our joint formations. It’s been amazing to watch our soldiers’ ability to successfully track, engage, and destroy multiple targets in a highly-complex live fire operational test, further demonstrating the IAMD’s game-changing technological advantage.”
Rasch went on to conclude, “As we continue to fine-tune system performance in order to fully demonstrate system requirements in the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation in Fiscal Year 2022, we maintain high confidence for success due to the great leaders and soldiers of the 3-43, who will ultimately become the first-ever IBCS-enabled battalion.”
The flight test that was conducted used target missiles that were launched from different points of origin toward the Army defenders at the controls of IBCS. The 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.
As the target missiles traveled independently towards their targets, multiple disparate radars provided data to IBCS. IBCS integrated the data to form a single uninterrupted composite track of each threat, impossible with any single sensor. This informed engagement solutions with the best interceptors to engage both incoming threats.
The soldiers then executed the IBCS-enabled engagement, which included the launch of a PAC-2 to intercept the cruise missile and a PAC-3 to intercept the advanced TBM. Successful execution of the second LUT flight test moves IBCS another step closer to Milestone C followed by production and fielding of IBCS.
It’s important to stay ahead of the game as new global threats are showing up constantly.
During a recent visit to the Northrop Grumman’s Huntsville Manufacturing Facility to thank the IBCS team, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said, “We need this weapon system in order to maintain a technological advantage in the future. It’s not a question of whether or not we might get there; we have to get there.”