Video Above: F-35s to Europe
Incoming enemy cruise missiles, rockets, artillery and even hostile aircraft will now be much more likely be seen detected and potentially destroyed or intercepted in coming years due to the Army’s fast moving progress with an emerging networked air and missile defense system.
Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS)
The Army has been developing its Integrated Battle Command System for many years and has just awarded an initial Low Rate Initial Production contract to Northrop Grumman to build the first 160 systems.
IBCS breaks new ground for the Army by virtue of networking otherwise segregated or dispersed radar and sensor nodes into a single, network system of meshed and interconnected nodes. This means a Sentinel radar system can, for instance, detect a threat from a specific operational envelope and then quickly share real-time information with a Patriot missile system radar such that defensive action could be taken quickly.
Identifying otherwise undetected incoming threats by sharing real-time threat information introduces a paradigm-changing ability to strengthen defenses and give commanders a much faster ability to make determinations about which countermeasure, defensive strategy or counterattack method might best suit the situation.
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“IBCS is a keystone Army Futures Command program that will provide a decisive battlefield advantage through weapon and sensor integration and a common mission-command system across all domains, delivering an integrated fires capability to the warfighter while improving battle space awareness, decision timing and protection against threats in complex integrated attack scenarios,” an Army statement said.
Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2)
The program has been progressing well for many years and the Army has been referring to it as a key contribution to the Pentagon’s Multi-Domain Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) program intended to create a multi-service warfare network to link any sensor to any shooter across a joint force. Army Chief of Staff Gen.
James McConville often says IBCS is the service’s contribution to the Pentagon’s JADC2. Toward this end, the Army has in recent years expanded the scope and effectiveness of ICBS to include air and maritime nodes.
In recent years, the Army has conducted successful exercises in which an F-35 was used as an aerial node within the network to identify approaching threat details and seamlessly pass them across a multi-domain combat network.
Building upon this, the Army is already conducting testing to expand IBCS to incorporate Aegis radar for Navy ships as well. This will lead to a circumstance wherein ships, fighter jets, ground combat nodes and radar across a wide envelope of dispersed and otherwise disconnected nodes can enable a joint force to breakthrough into a new era of high-speed, networked warfare.
Full rate production is slated to begin in 2023.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.